March 16, 2011

Twisted Humor: Lio: Happiness Is a Squishy Cephalopod

Lio CoverLio: Happiness Is a Squishy Cephalopod
Publisher: Andrews McMeel
Writer/Artist: Mark Tatulli

Reminiscent of the morbid humor of Charles Addams, Lio is a reminder that comic strips can still be simple and funny. Pretty much void of dialog, Lio is a throwback to ye olde pantomime strips. The story and jokes are told through a series of witty panels, and in some cases, one image. No doubt about it, that takes a talented cartoonist to accomplish.

Lio is doubly appealing to those with twisted senses of humor. The main character is like a more sinister version of Calvin from Calvin and Hobbes. Living only with his father, Lio is left to cause mischief, outsmart the bullies, and befriend monsters. (And in a few cases, become the monster himself.)

The art in the book is ridiculously charming. It’s like someone took the work of Charles Addams, Edward Gorey, and the soulless eyes of Little Orphan Annie, threw them all in a blender, and added a dash of “awww.” The strips are mainly presented in black and white, but there are a couple of colored ones sprinkled throughout. While the color is a nice way to break up the book, it’s really unnecessary to the strip.

Lio Comic Vampire

While I may have given a lot of comparisons to other comics above, Lio is truly a work of its own. However, it is obvious that the creator does have a deep love of other comics, and lampoons them often in his own twisted, loving way.

Lio Comic Calvin

As a werewolf enthusiast, one of my favorite strips features Lio getting bitten by what at first seems like a large dog. Of course, when the full moon comes up, it’s obvious that he has become a werewolf. He does the only thing truly appropriate at such a time: he gives a fist pump that could easily have been accompanied by a “ca-ching” sound.

If you’re looking for a story arc, this isn’t the comic for you. The strips are far from telling a sequential tale. There isn’t really any character development, just a growing sense of how strange Lio is. Sometimes it’s nice to have a comic book you can open up and start reading at any point. It’s clever and meant to make you smile. I certainly did. Enough to show my fangs…

…I’ve said too much.

Lio Comic Death

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Mac Beauvais



  1. This book looks pretty funny. I think I will have to check it out.

  2. Sounds like a very fun read and worth looking into. Is this the only book that collects these strips?

  3. Billy

    This does look funny. Light humor is a forgotten trade. Everybody is always trying to write a huge “bang” moment. Trouble is, it usually causes a thud instead.

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