Aging like a fine wine

The Fusco Brothers will officially enter its 30s on Aug. 7. Upon congratulating the strip’s creator, J.C. Duffy, for the admirable milestone, he said, “Thanks, it seems like only… 30 years!”

The eccentric cartoon centers around the four Fusco brothers from New Jersey (Al, Lance, Lars and Rölf), and their trusty dog-turned-wolverine, Axel. It is known for its quick wit, rhythmic mockery and deadpan humor, with contemporary twists on classic one-liners and pick-up lines that have kept the strip edgy and relevant all these years.

Duffy, who cites pop culture and human behavior as sources of inspiration, said that he tries to remain open-minded in order to avoid being repetitive and predictable. He also incorporates a variety of comedic topics to appeal to a wider audience. For instance, the Fuscos’ teenaged pet wolverine, Axel, provides animal and generational humor. The brothers’ parents have made sporadic appearances in the strip, allowing Duffy to use mom and dad jokes, as well as prison jokes (Pa resides in one, and Ma visits him there). Lance also has a longstanding girlfriend, Gloria, tapping into relationship humor as well as the dating humor covered by the other brothers.

It is common for Duffy to break the fourth wall, as seen in an earlier strip above where Lance refers to his status as a comic strip character, and a recent strip below, in which Al calls out the role of the syndicate.

In addition to the wide variety of humor, Duffy also uses universal scenes and scenarios, including doctors’ offices, therapy sessions, bars and courtrooms.

Duffy has been a cartoonist for “longer than I’d care to calculate,” with this strip appearing in print and online newspapers and other work appearing in publications such as The New Yorker, Mad and The Wall Street Journal. He most enjoys the creativity and flexibility that the profession allows. Andrews McMeel (formerly Universal Press Syndicate) has syndicated The Fusco Brothers for nearly all of its entirety (it was syndicated by Lew Little Enterprises, Inc. for the first six months), which has allowed Duffy to form a close, positive relationship with his editors.

“I’m excited every time I get a new batch of strips,” said Josh Peres, who has served as editor for The Fusco Brothers since 2012. “Duffy is the master of taking something you’ve seen before — a fly in one’s soup, happy hour at the bar, a lawyer approaching the bench — and making it hilarious and new. Starting with the familiar and producing the unexpected to comedic effect is the genius that’s made The Fusco Brothers a joy to read for three decades.”

So, how does Duffy really feel about his comic turning the big 3-0?

“It’s a reminder that I’m 30 years closer to death, which, of course, further inspires hilarity at the art table,” he said. “Actually, I don’t think about it much. I just keep at it.”

We hope he keeps at it for a long time to come. Happy anniversary!