Ben Montero’s Wholesome Comics

In the wake of wholesome memes, a hyper positive reaction to the typically cynical world of memes, few are able to execute happy LOLs with the element of irony that makes memes memes. They often dawdle in between “Hang in there!!” territory or utter bosh: wholesome memes are tricky.

Artist Ben Montero makes the practice look fairly easy with web comics that are an oozing mess of positivity. They are so fabulously wholesome, featuring frogs and ducks and slugs seeking constant contentness. They would make Pepe explode in a fury of warm and fuzzies.

Montero’s comics are typically the same: a four panel square that sets up a problem, exacerbates it, points you toward a potentially negative or sarcastic end, only to pivot toward the most desirable outcome. The comics are perpetually beyond half-full, seeking to provide the best case scenario for tricky situations. Hopes and dreams are fulfilled and even the worst feelings are validated as alright. Why? Because they’re not unique: the joy of suffering is that we all suffer. Let’s appreciate our communal experiences, no?

The comics’ overwhelming positivity also yields some extremely funny results. For example: in one comic, a little frog dude asks a group of people if anyone wants to watch television. One person obliges and runs up to watch hoping that there will be soup, a strange but acceptable request. When the person gets to the door, the frog let’s him know that there is soup for TV watching. What do they then do? Eat fucking soup and watch fucking television. It is a delightful four act mini-play.

Montero does occasionally fall into dour, sarcastic territories but is increasingly refining the wholesome comedy that the comics do so well by making them increasingly ridiculous. Look above: a comic about not making it on a guest list and being cool with that? I cannot think of anything more anti-Instagrammer tastemaker than that. It’s so anti-cool and fun and loving and cute. I want to squeeze these comics to death like a slobbering puppy.

Wholesome memes straddle being cloying and are taxing because they’re so simplistic. Montero very much avoids this and is such a fabulous entry into Internet positivity. Let’s hope we start seeing these comics more and more—and that the world becomes one happy cloud of smiling chickens, frogs, and slugs.

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