Review by Frank Plowright
“Unique” is a term too frequently seen in reviews of material that may offer a different approach, but could be the work of many creators. Tony Millionaire is unique. No-one could step in and take over his Maakies stips as only his mind could conceive the content. At their most obvious they’re gag strips featuring the alcoholic Drinky Crow and the festeringly disgusting Uncle Gabby. However, there’s not always a punchline, and assorted other characters can hijack the strip, some frequently, others perhaps just once, as is the case for the insects leading to a contrived bugfuck joke.
Millionaire’s artistic instincts are also novel, and if not quite unique, harkening back to the art styles applied to the earliest American strip cartoons is certainly ploughing a narrow furrow in the 21st century. He combines ornate, often complicated designs with simple characters and he loves a maritime scene, whether it be boats, pirates or giant sea monsters. It’s a rare strip that doesn’t have one almost over-rendered object, Millionaire explaining away one more obvious gag by noting he just really wanted to draw the helmet in the first panel.
Surreal situations such as a turd-encrusting kit will be followed by the absurdism of a Native American chief being chased down the railroad tracks and chancing on a dead dog with which to turn the tables on his attackers. It should also be noted that the down and dirty is frequently the topic at hand, and not all bodily excretions are encrusted. Of course, combining that with the refined, old-fashioned cartooning is a joke in itself.
There’s never any predicting a strip’s course, and perhaps the most unpredictable moment in these random collisions is suddenly seeing the characters drawn by the refined hand of All Over Coffee’s Paul Madonna for a strip.
Maakies is niche humour, but a significant niche, and as shown in one strip, there are plenty of people sporting Drinky Crow tats indicating how much Millionaire’s work speaks to them.