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Good Read Column for November 29, 1998


By Darren Bleuel
Online irregularly
runs twice weekly
in the Daily Californian

(of a possible five)


Another online comic this week. I've been reading Nukees for a couple of months now. It's not quite an online-only strip, since it's actually a twice-weekly strip running in the Daily Californian, a student newspaper at UC-Berkeley. Darren Bleuel, who does the strip, scans them now and then and sticks them on the net. He's got a complete archive back to the first strip from Jan. 21, 1997. Interestingly, the 1998 archive is arranged newest-to-oldest so that if you can easily get the latest ones, while the 1997 archive is chronological, so you can start from the beginning.

As usual, I suggest reading a few and seeing if you like it, then if you do going back to the beginning and reading them all in order. Gag-a-day strips are OK, I suppose, but these days even the best gag-a-day strips are beginning to introduce a bit of continuity. Nukees has more than a bit, and you really should read it from the beginning.

Those first strips though, look pretty bad. Nukees began as a very, very crudely drawn strip and has advanced to being a fairly crudely drawn strip. Darren Bleuel is no Bill Watterson or Pat Brady. It's the humor and the characters that carry this strip. Gavin and his friends are the funniest college students I've seen since the old "Doonesbury" days - and Gavin has managed to stay in school nearly as long as Zonker, despite the fact that he's a genius rather than a lamebrain.

Actually, although the art is still fairly crude, it's important to note that this is not just a talking-heads strip. Although his hand is not always capable of depicting what his demented mind sees, this is often a visually imaginative strip, and he usually draws well enough to get his point across. As he continues to improve, I look forward to seeing him stretch his visual vocabulary even further.

I can verify that one does NOT have to be a nuclear physicist to understand and appreciate this strip - although I'm sure it helps. Gavin is doing some shadowy kind of graduate study and works in a nuclear research facility. Luca (who prefers to be called "King Luca") also works there. Much of the humor is scientific, and if you can't appreciate jokes like "I used to have a Heisenbergmobile, but every time I looked at the speedometer I got lost," you may not be ready for this strip (actually, that's not one of Bleuel's, it's on a button I own).

In a world where everything is aimed at the lowest common denominator, it's damned near a miracle to find a strip that not only doesn't insult my intelligence, it occasionally challenges it.

Not that Bleuel's above slapstick or dumb jokes. Far from it. Sophomoric humor at its best is on tap in many of the strips, as stupid and hilarious as the old National Lampoon - the magazine, not the movies.

Nukees won't be everybody's cup of tea. I'll admit there are a couple of other online strips that I've been following that I haven't gotten around to reviewing yet that are probably better than this one. But it tickles my funny bone in a particular way. And since it's my column, I decided to plug it.

If you are smart, hip, scientifically literate, and young enough in either years or spirit that the fun-loving hijinks of some college students whose minds are not exactly on their studies doesn't make you frown disapprovingly, you might like this strip.

I know I do.

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