The Moral is, Don’t Read the Fourth Panel – HELL WAS FULL Advance Review
Hell Was Full
Written and Illustrated by Branson Reese
Published by Oni Press
Release Date: July 8th, 2020
Some of the best comics from the popular web series are now collected in a single edition. This book, published by Oni Press, also includes never before seen material. According to his website, this will be the first time Reese’s original work has been published, but he’s written comedy in various mediums for years. His writing credits include We Bear Bears and Late Night with Seth Meyers. He’s also provided illustrations for several magazines and books. Now readers can enjoy Reese’s talents in Hell Was Full, which releases next week on July 8th.
Much like the strips found in newspapers, most the comics in this book are three to four panels in length, with a few being either longer or shorter. Each tells its own self contained joke or relays a short scene. Reese provides a sentence or two of commentary beneath each of the comics as well. Some of the comics are clever, some made me chuckle from their sheer absurdity, and others flew right over my head. Honestly, Reese’s alt-text commentary was often funnier than (or at least increased the humor of) the comics themselves.
A few of my favorite strips included: A play on Of Mice And Men with the anthropomorphic M&M’s standing in for Lenny and Carl; a comic that explains why certain animals’ tails look the way they do; and comics featuring Joe Camel, Fred Flintstone, and Boo Berry. In no particular order, here are some of my favorite jokes or gags from Hell Was Full: A piggy bank that was actually a pig with “a lot going on medically.” A comparison of Papa John to figures from mythology. A bat’s metamorphosis into a vampire. A dog who knows the concept of salvation and hell, but doesn’t know what fireworks are.
Each panel seems to be hand drawn. This gives each strip a surreal look, which fits the tone of many of the comics. Most are presented in black and white, but there are a few colored strips. I do wish the lettering was done a little better though. It was often hard to read the small and messy script. I was reminded of reading someone else’s handwriting (which technically I was, considering Reese drew all the comics in this book). Although there were some visual gags, many of the comic’s punchlines relied on the reader being able to read the dialogue. One reason some of the jokes didn’t land with me was because I struggled to read what was written in some of the panels. Luckily, the alt-text was printed, so even when I couldn’t read the dialogue, I still got a laugh from Reese’s commentary.
Many of the comics in Hell Was Full are good for a chuckle, and the occasional guffaw. Like all comedy, the humor in each strip is subjective. The comedy in Hell is Full though, is more subjective than most. Reese has a twisted sense of humor, punctuated by the abstract bent of his art. If you’ve followed the strip on the internet, now’s your chance to own them all in a single book. Plus this collection comes with new material as well. Pick up Hell Was Full when it comes out on July 8th or pre-order your copy today.