cover image Belzebubs


JP Ahonen. Top Shelf, $14.99 (120p) ISBN 978-1-60309-442-9

This collection of one-page webcomics weaves slice-of-life drama and mockumentary-style humor into a pentagram of laughs, relatable moments, and a love for black metal. Sl0th is a black metal band frontman; his devoted wife, Lucyfer, gets turned on by Exorcist role play; and everyone from Grandma (who cherishes Grandpa’s decaying corpse) to kids Leviathan and Lilith (who speculate about whether Satan Claus is actually dad in a horned mask) to three-headed pup Lupus is devoted to a gloomy, spiky aesthetic. Though the usual issues come up—keeping the spice alive in marriage, adolescent social angst, getting a baby to go to sleep—they’re given new twists: tween Leviathan’s rebellious phase involves distressing his parents by scrubbing his face clean of makeup, tying his shaggy hair into a neat ponytail, and saying grace before dinner. Eschewing metaphor and complex plot for comedy, the series relies on the strength of its humor and fourth-wall-breaking presentation in a way that is as twisted as it is sidesplitting. Each of the strips is further brought to life with densely shaded cartooning that emphasizes the characters’ highly expressive faces (even through the starkness of black face paint) and the absurdity of the ever-present need to keep things metal—Lilith even reads Gothmapolitan. With a niche aesthetic and tongue-in-cheek charm, this collection of strips takes the humor of family life to a fantastic extreme. (Feb.)