ICv2 Stars: 4.5 (Out of 5)
Posted by Nick Smith on June 21, 2022 @ 12:02 pm CT
Publisher: Drawn and Quarterly
Release Date: October 17, 2022
Creator: Tom Gauld
Format: 180 pgs., Full-Color, 9.25” x 5.25”, Hardcover
Age Rating: 16+
ICv2 Rating: 4.5 Stars out of 5
Tom Gauld is a very quirky cartoonist, whose output includes a cartoon about a computerized novel-writing algorithm that can make excuses just as well as a human writer can. This collection focuses heavily on books, readers, writers, and places where books can be found in their wild habitat, but from the viewpoint of Gauld, a brilliantly weird cartoonist with a twisted sense of humor. His comics in this volume vary in the ways they approach the creation and consumption of books, halfway between Lynda Barry and Charles Addams in the ways he twists perceptions and reality. What is fascinating is that he even invents ways in which to torment readers of his comics with his ways of distorting things, like his creation of new German words to describe feelings that readers experience that have very little to do with the actual book being read. Why German? Well, you couldn’t really create a word like “buchendschmerz” in English, now could you? In fact, you can’t even think of a thing like that in English, in most cases.
Many of Gauld’s cartoons are done as simple silhouettes, or very simplified figures. That’s fine, because the artwork is rarely involved with the point of the cartoon. The artwork is just an excuse so that his points of philosophy can be printed in a way that people think they’re reading “just” a cartoon…rather like the cartoon works of Dan O’Neill or Walt Kelly in that way.
This book could be read by older teens, who will get most of the humor, but its main appeal will be to adults, who will understand more of the book and writer jokes. The cartroon involving “a ghastly, malformed monstrosity, shambling dismally from the shadows, jabbering horribly in a chaotic, unearthly tongue” might get their interest, though.
As to why you should worry about librarians seeking revenge, bear in mind the Doctor Who quote: “We're in a library. Books are the best weapon in the world. This room's the greatest arsenal we could have. Arm yourself!”
Librarians have all the weapons in the world…and know where you live.
--Nick Smith: Library Technician, Community Services, for the Pasadena Public Library in California.