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Webcomic Wednesday: Men at Work: “Greasy Space Monkeys” Review

Callum’s Webcomic Corner

Callum Waterhouse ’18 / Emertainment Monthly Staff Writer

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Story By: Reine Brand, Mark Kestler

Art By: Reine Brand

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We have all had that job, right?  That really demeaning job we were too smart for.  We have all had that one coworker as well.  The one who you knew you could be friends with if only someone else had to clean up his messes.  And we have all had that boss who would completely take his workers for granted.  The good news for most of us is that this lousy job did not take place in deep space.  

Not so for Casper Lime and Nathan Ghazi of Niya Space Station.  These two lovable nitwits are the “Monkeys” in the title of the delightful webcomic from the Melbourne based team of Reine Brand and Mark Kestler.  

As the opening paragraph hopefully made clear, Greasy Space Monkeys is a workplace comedy.  Despite the sci-fi accoutrements, most of the interactions feel like they could take place in the film Clerks.  

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Greasy Space Monkeys #34. Credit: Reine Brand

The main characters in particular often feel as if they were abducted from the set of a Kevin Smith film.  The comic follows Casper, a brilliant engineer newly assigned to help Nathan clean and maintain their crumbling space station.  Casper serves as the Abbot to Nathan’s Lou and most of the jokes blossom out of their interactions.  Casper is clearly overqualified for his lousy job, and the reason why he is there serves as one of the larger mysteries of the early storylines.  

So our duo bumble from one job to the next, trying to maintain as much dignity, or at least sanity, as they can manage under the circumstances.  What helps make this humorous series so addictive is the heart which shows through the grease and grime of the workspace.  As the strip progresses, the relationship between Casper, Nathan and the other characters grows from one of begrudging tolerance to genuine affection.  As they learn to care about one another, we learn to care about them.  After a while, it is the relationships and not the jokes that keeps one coming back every week for a new strip.  

The staying power of this comic is aided by a particularly robust supporting cast.  There is the rebellious space pilot, and Casper’s sometimes-crush, Jo, the sassy war veteran Captain Fisher, and finally Casper’s sour supervisor, Mr. Voll.  Each is given ample time to shine both in terms of humor and character development.  

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Greasy Space Monkeys #57. Credit: Reine Brand

With a high science-fiction setting, there is a strong temptation to get mired in the competition for spectacle, letting the story become lost amid the blinking instruments and glistening nebulas.  Fortunately, Reine Brand’s strips are marked by their economy.  Not a detail is used that is unnecessary.  This is clear in the design of the characters, who often look flat and two-dimensional, but maintain enough distinct features to be instantly recognizable.  These figures are often framed in sharp contrast against backgrounds with a ludicrous degree of detail.  Rest assured, there will be flying spaceships and big explosions in this comic, but only when the story calls for it.  

And that is what Greasy Space Monkeys is trying to do, tell a good story.  Many of the earlier strips are just simple, one-off gags.  As the comic progresses, readers will begin to develop a sense of the Niya Space Station.  By the time the more ongoing story arcs start to take hold, you will feel like you have already walked in the hallways and hangars of this cozy corner of space.  

So if you want something to make you laugh that will not make you feel less intelligent for having laughed at it, than come back every Friday for your weekly update for Greasy Space Monkeys.  There might be more luxurious places in space, but there are few more entertaining.  

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