‘Gastrophobia’ Pits My Little Ponies Against Care Bears in Ancient Greece
Set in an offbeat version of Ancient Greece (in the little known region of Inconsequentia), David Maguire’s webcomic Gastrophobia mixes up fractured Greek myths with goofy time travel adventures, dark takes on classic cartoons and even an Iron Chef competition. In the most recently completed storyline, McGuire’s exiled Amazon warrior and her plucky son come face to face with two of the most malevolent warring powers of the 1980s: Care Bears and My Little Ponies.Gastrophobia stars Phobia, a boastful exiled Amazon huntress, and Gastro, her aspiring musician son. Appropriately, many of the plotlines in Gastrophobia revolve around Greek myths, especially the labors of Hercules. Phobia battles the Nemean Lion, the Hydra and the Minotaur; Gastro completes his chores by diverting a river through his house. One running gag centers around the notion that everyone knows the riddle of the Sphinx (much to her frustration). Another involves Phobia’s insistence that Gastro’s father is the god Zeus:
McGuire has an affinity for “bad jokes,” and Gastrophobia is rife with puns, silly gags and flip-takes. More often than not, the Gordian Knots of Gastrophobia‘s plots are hacked and slashed open by Phobia’s sword, and the ridiculous twist endings often comically negate the action of the arc. But McGuire pulls off these feats of funny in unexpected ways so while Gastrophobia might induce eye rolls and groans, it never feels expected.
And McGuire’s delightfully corny jokes often take root in more modern myths as well. After Phobia fells a doe, her fawn seeks revenge in a demonic, Thumperless version of Bambi. When Phobia and Gastro stumble into the Magical Land of the Pretty Ponies, the suspiciously adorable creatures challenge Gastro to a free-form poetry competition.
In the new arc “Unbearable,” Gastro and Phobia return to the land of Pretty Ponies, where they encounter the Ponies’ natural enemy: a tribe of chubby, heart-nosed bears. But instead of dancing around on clouds and singing songs about friendship, these bears wear skull hats and worship the bloodthirsty god Tolerac — and they want to sacrifice Gastro in their dark ritual. You can be sure that, in true Gastrophobia fashion, it will all end on a bad joke.