Mmmmmm, Ok. That was delicious. Now then. Here’s a great new comic for the first full day of summer. Chicken Wings is not about Monday night football with the guys like you might think. It’s actually the TV show Wings staring chickens. Without the relationship melodrama. For those that don’t recall, Wings was a sitcom about a pilot, a mechanic, and their manager and secretary who worked at a small airport in Nantucket. Monk fans may be interested to know that Tony Shalhoub was a frequent the show as the all important cab driver, though my favorite character was the dopey mechanic Lowell portrayed by Thomas Haden Church. I watched it again recently and I seem to remember it being a lot funnier when I was a kid. But then the funniest character was Lloyd and his humor doesn’t really follow my interests any longer. Chicken Wings, on the other hand, is fresh and witty and contains quite a few more jokes that are funnier if you’re a pilot or work at a general aviation airport. There is also a complete lack of blond women in denim overalls. Early 90’s fashion. Yikes.
As I’ve mentioned before the combination of good artwork and great writing is a rare thing on the interwebs, but the brothers Michael and Stefan Strasser have brought it together nicely. Must be something about brothers that makes for great comics. The chickens are well drawn, but more importantly the planes are quite accurate, albeit chicken sized. The drawing style is very familiar to me, though I can’t quite place it. It gives me that weird feeling. You know the one. That feeling you get when you first wake up in the morning in bed alone and you swear there was someone next you all night but now that you’re awake the bed is made and you’re still in your clothes. You get up to make a cup of tea only to find a decidedly furry bear sitting on your toilet reading the USA Today, which strikes you as odd because you only read USA Today when a hotel gives you a complimentary copy. You’ve always found it to be a bit flashy and pre-digested. Like Ritz Bits sandwiches. How hard is it to squirt a little Cheez Whiz on a cracker? When you get to the kitchen you realize you’re out of milk and you’re about to ask the bear why he couldn’t be bothered to pick some up when he was out when a disconcerting grunting noise starts in the bathroom. It’s about this time you reach the conclusion that maybe today would be a good day to go down to the coffee shop for your morning constitutional. You know the feeling.
To get over this nagging feeling I turn to the content of this fowl comic. This doesn’t clear up much. Though I’ve spent more time in a general aviation airport than perhaps the average Joe, I still miss quite a few of these jokes. Well, that’s not entirely true. I understand them from a layman’s perspective, but I am certain my Herculean efforts to find comedy in everything life presents my humble soul would not be so strained were I in fact employed at an airport that emphasizes charter travel. What’s interesting is I have to think these airports have become a lot more boring in the last 30 years, though their safety ratings have sky rocketed I’m sure. I know a guy who talked about a guy who was a fixed base operator for a little airport in the 70’s and did little more than run illegal card games and a fully stocked bar next to a stretch of asphalt. There may have been flying involved somewhere along the line. Maybe. Probably.
Chicken Wings is a modern comic for modern pilots so the focus is largely on the problems of running a small airport and the inherent joys and struggles that come with a pilot’s license. But unlike the TV show, here the mechanic is the brains of the operation and main character and pilot Chuck is Maverick with the mechanical aptitude of a monkey. The lack of melodrama means the comic is non-sequitur, which isn’t something we at Faceplant generally go for, but everybody needs a hobby. If you’re looking for a good one and you’re not really into planes I would suggest mine, which is collecting mason jars full of water taken from various streams, lakes, and other fresh water sources all over the world. I keep them on a shelf in the guest bedroom. They’re all dated so when I get them chemically analyzed I can compare results when I go back to the source in a few years. Right now I’m working on a way to display the spectrograph analysis in a sort of post-modern goth display. I’m thinking brass partial frames with smoked glass. I’m certainly open to suggestions. The question is, are quart mason jars too large? Suppose I have multiple samples from the same source over the course of 30 years and by then I should have hundreds of sources. There is a significant contamination concern to consider as well.
While Chicken Wings certainly lacks the massive appeal that Wings apparently used to stay alive for eight seasons, it’s still a very funny comic in its own right. Of course if you want to get all the jokes there’s always this page. I’m told it’s a huge hit with aviators, and I don’t mean the cool shades. So the next time you’re pilot buddy gives you a line about some wild antics ask, Chuck is that you? Trust me, he’ll die laughing and you just might earn a free flight.