The latest minicomic from Seattle cartoonists Marc Palm and Brandon Lehmann, Florida Man and the Golden Tickets to Heaven, is a story based on a single joke. Luckily, it's a good joke. You've likely seen the (now retired) Florida Man Twitter feed that treats every tawdry news story involving a drugged-out poaching crime spree as another installment in the continuing adventures of a single bargain-basement superhero named Florida Man.
Heaven plays that premise straight: Florida Man wears wraparound sunglasses and sports a mullet. His costume is a sleeveless t-shirt with Florida's outline on it and a pair of flip flops. He just wants to hang out in a parking lot and enjoy life. Then an alien shows up and offers to take Florida Man to a "planet made entirely of drugs." The catch is that the trip will cost $10,000, and Florida Man has to dig up the cash in advance.
Much has been made of the classism and culture-gawking of the Florida Man phenomenon, but Lehmann's story for Heaven mostly keeps its comedy out of the realm of mockery. Instead, it's a sleazy American tall tale in the classical sense: Florida Man is a larger-than-life hero having exaggerated adventures that meander around from place to place and getting more and more bizarre, like the tale of Paul Bunyan.
Palm's illustrations for the book — a single panel per page like a children's book — are minimalist but striking. Sometimes a panel will consist of nothing but two figures interacting, but those poses — say, a cop handcuffing Florida Man — feel exactly true to life. Palm is fast becoming one of Seattle's best cartoonists: he's getting into a zone where every line he puts on paper is exactly the right line. Even in a situation where the book is clearly a bit of a lark, the art of his cartooning is undeniable.