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Comic Book / Megg, Mogg and Owl

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"What at first glance reads like an episodic stoner comedy slowly reveals a chiseled character study of suburban ennui to rival the works of Solondz, Groening, or Flaubert. Hanselmann's characterization and visual creativity mines lifetimes of pathos from the slapstick simplicity of its psychedelic, absurdist premise. You will believe an owl can cry."
—A blurb on the back of Megahex
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Megg, Mogg and Owl is a series of comics written by Simon Hanselmann, a Dark Parody of Meg and Mog. The series primarily follows Megg, a clinically depressed witch who lives an unfulfilled life. Most stories revolve around the drug-fueled debauchery that takes up most of her time. Accompanying her on these misadventures is her boyfriend Mogg, a talking cat, and Owl, their neurotic flatmate. Also present for many of their escapades is Werewolf Jones, a mentally-ill and sex-crazed drug dealer.

On the surface, the series appears to be a light-hearted stoner comedy with some Magic Realism elements. As it progresses, it reveals itself to be much more complex and dramatic than just that. The collected stories deal with topics like alienation, substance abuse, mental illness, poverty, and arrested development. The central plot thread of the series (such as it could be argued) is the title characters' inability to mature, evolve, or work through their emotional problems as they approach their 30's without having done anything with their lives. Beneath the Black Comedy is a tale of sad, broken people trapped in a miserable situation as much by themselves as they are by each other.

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Most of the comics are published through Fantagraphics Books as zines, but many of the comics have been collected into volumes. While there is a timeline events, most of the comics are self-contained and can be read in any order.

  • Life Zone (2013)
  • Megahex (2014)
  • Worst Behavior (2015)
  • Megg & Mogg In Amsterdam (and Other Stories) (2016)
  • One More Year (2017)
  • Bad Gateway (2019)

Aside from the above zines, Hanselmann began working on an Alternate Continuity series, which can be read on his Instagram. Crisis Zone was written in real-time and deals with the cast as they try to survive COVID-19, a kidnapping, and WWJ getting a Netflix show. This story was serialized and relied on continuity, but the story and humor were just as absurd as ever. At the time of its conclusion in December of 2020, it was the longest continuous story in the entire series.

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Tropes:

  • Addled Addict: It's unclear if most of the characters use drugs because their lives are bad or if their lives are bad because they use drugs. A flashback to high school shows that Owl was still neurotic and unhappy before he discovered weed, so it's likely that the characters have preexisting problems that are exacerbated by drug abuse.
  • Abusive Parents: Werewolf Jones only seems to feed his kids candy. He regularly does hardcore drugs in front of him, makes no attempt to hide his contempt for his younger son, and forces them to make felt hats for his online business.
  • Ambiguous Gender Identity: It's at first unclear as to whether Booger is a crossdresser or a trans woman, as an early comic has them refer to themselves as male. But later issues have Booger identify as a woman, and she's Megg's go-to (and only) female friend. Regardless, she is biologically male.
  • Anything That Moves: Werewolf Jones used to date Megg, has had sex with Owl while high, and once said that he's "grinding this city's rectums into dust."
  • Black Comedy Rape: As a birthday surprise, Werewolf Jones and Mogg attempt to rape Owl, while Megg watches. Owl is rightfully traumatized, but the other characters fail to see what they did wrong. Word of God is that this is based off a true story.
  • Cerebus Syndrome: After the end of Megahex where Owl abandons his friends, the strips that follow it are much grimmer. In Bad Gateway, the lack of any stabilizing influence in Megg and Mogg's lives has exacerbated all their problems. Their house is even filthier, their relationship has become even more tense and unhappy, and they're openly hostile towards each other and Werewolf Jones, who is unsurprisingly a terrible and unhelpful flatmate. Their lifestyle has become unsustainable, with them having to commit welfare fraud just so they can pay the last 20 percent of the rent that wasn't covered by Owl. The fact that they're already struggling to barely cover their living costs after a mere two months (as well as the fact that Owl only paid out his share for those two months, meaning his former friends are on their own from then on) indicates that things are going to get much worse. There's still some humor, but a lot of it as the expense of how pathetic and disgusting the characters are.
  • Crapsack World: The titular characters live in a crumby, run-down part of what's implied (and later explicitly shown) to be Seattle.
  • Death Seeker: Megg and Werewolf Jones are very candid about their suicidal inclinations, although Jones is more proactive about acting on them.
    • In a rare moment of tranquility, Mogg asks Megg if it's possible to stay in their state of drugged-out bliss forever. Megg cryptically answers "one more year," implying she knows their lifestyle is unsustainable and that she'll kill herself if things don't improve by then.
  • The Dog Bites Back: Owl decides to leave his friends for good after they express no remorse for attacking and sexually assaulting him as a twisted non-prank.
  • Fan Disservice: There is lots of full-frontal nudity and graphic sex. None of it is very pleasant to watch. Werewolf Jones invokes this in almost every one of his appearances. On a similar note, his skeevy friend Dracula Jr. is almost always naked or engaging in a vile sex act whenever he makes an appearance.
  • The Friend Nobody Likes: None of Owl's friends like him very much. They see him as an annoying wet blanket and are openly malicious towards him. It's shown that they only let him into their group during high school, out of pity for him. Most comics have them, but especially Mogg and Werewolf Jones, abusing him in some fashion.
  • Genre Throwback: Hanselmann was influenced by the "Weirdo Alternative Comics" he read in his youth.
  • Groin Attack:
  • Grossout Show: We get to see in intricate detail how the cast's lifestyle negatively affects themselves and their surroundings.
  • Hope Spot: Twice in Bad Gateway
    • Megg meets with her financial aid advisor, who believes that she can get a job and turn her life around. Megg, not wanting to leave the comfiness of her current life, purposely sabotages her chances by pretending to be crazy and unable to work. She gets away with keeping her full benefits without having to work, but she loses her shot at improving her life.
    • Werewolf Jones goes sober. He gets a respectable job, becomes a nicer person, doesn't commit any crimes, and vastly improves as a father. Then Mike pushes him off the wagon, and he's back to square one.
  • Kissing Under the Influence: Owl and Werewolf Jones have sex while high on powerful drugs.
  • Noodle Incident: At the beginning of "Bad Gateway," Mogg mentions that his parents cut off his allowance after seeing something scandalous on his Tumblr page.
    "My aunt saw my Tumblr and showed it to my mother... My dad knows everything. I'm fucked."
  • No Good Deed Goes Unpunished: Owl gets a job for him, Megg, Mogg, and Werewolf Jones at a camping goods store, hoping to help them pay rent. The second the store owner and Owl are away, Megg and Mogg get bored of work and attempt to turn it into a nightclub. Also, when Werewolf Jones is fired for his indecent behavior, he breaks into the store/nightclub and pretty much destroys it, costing Owl his job.
  • Not So Above It All: Owl may be the most well-adjusted member of the main trio, but he's also sex addict, a drug addict, and is occasionally persuaded to join his friends in indulging their worst behavior.
  • Random Events Plot: Many of the shorter strips take a "day in the life of" approach to plot, where they're brief glimpses into the lives of the titular characters without an overarching conflict.
  • Schoolyard Bully All Grown Up: Werewolf Jones maintains the same domineering attitude that he had in high school.
  • Screw This, I'm Out of Here!: After taking all sorts of shit, Owl moves out after none of the others visited him in the hospital after he nearly died (due to a prank by Werewolf Jones's kids).
  • Stepford Smiler: While Megg has no problem hiding how miserable she is, several comics imply that she's under one of her depressive spells and refuses to show it. She once mentions that she's good at getting work done when she's suicidally depressed, all while seeming as normal as ever.
  • Stoners Are Funny: The comic is interesting in that while there's plenty of humor surrounding the lives of its titular characters, their extreme stoner ways aren't portrayed as charming or endearing in any way. Most of the comedy comes from them how utterly repellent they are as human beings.
  • Subverted Kids’ Show: The characters are based on those from the Meg and Mog children's picture book and TV cartoon series.
  • Surreal Humor: On top of the plentiful black comedy, some strips have a deliberately strange, unreal atmosphere that accompanies lots of absurd humor. This is the focal point of the "Truth Zone" strips, which are even more fantastical than the canonical strips.
  • Toilet Humor: Werewolf Jones once convinces Owl to let him and his kids poop in his bed. Another time, Mogg shits in Owl's lasagna for a laugh.
  • Took a Level in Badass: Owl becomes a lot more authoritative and confident in "Crisis Zone," where he starts standing up to Werewolf Jones' idiotic and obnoxious behavior for a change. Jaxon also undergoes this, as he eventually gathers the courage to call out his scumbag dad and break free of his malignant influence.
  • Toxic Friend Influence: Everyone is this to everyone else, but Owl gets it the worst.
  • Trash of the Titans: The main characters' home is messy and run down at the best of times, with Owl being the only one who even tries to keep it clean (and his efforts tend to be undone quickly by the others). As such, it becomes much worse after he moves out and Werewolf Jones moves in, covered in filth and empty bottles, and a blacklight shows that the walls and furniture are pretty much coated in semen.
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