Thursday, December 12, 2013

Comics collections: 'The Oatmeal,' 'Hyperbole and a Half,' and 'Best Comics 2013'

One reason we love the internet is that it gives some of the more pixiliated among us the chance to flourish. Some writer/artists with popular blogs even get book deals, including The Oatmeal's Matt Inman and Hyperbole and a Half's Allie Brosh. We're carrying two collections by Inman: Why Grizzly Bears Should Wear Underpants and My Dog: The Paradox: A Lovable Discourse about Man's Best Friend. These sample panels are from his series on what we put up with on airplanes, on buying apps, and on his dog, Rambo.
The full title of Brosh's book is Hyperbole and a Half: Unfortunate Situations, Flawed Coping Mechanisms, Mayhem, and Other Things That Happened. You can find extensive excerpts from her recent interview with Terry Gross on NPR's Fresh Air here.
Here's what Wired says about her:
"Perhaps you know Allie Brosh from the most famous panel of her webcomic, where a manic cartoon character holds a broom in the air and shouts 'CLEAN ALL THE THINGS!' Or perhaps you’ve read her comics about going to a children’s birthday party while heavily sedated and attempting to move with her two insane dogs on a cross-country road trip. Brosh is a seemingly inexhaustible resource of fantastic stories, which manage to find hilarity in the mundane, the absurd, and the tragic."
The images above and left are from an all-time classic called "The God of Cake"—an epic saga of childhood with a chastening ending ("I followed her around doggedly, hoping that she would set the cake down.")
"When we started packing, the helper dog knew immediately that something was going on.  I could tell that she knew because she becomes extremely melodramatic when faced with even a trivial amount of uncertainty.  She started following me everywhere, pausing every so often to flop to the ground in an exaggeratedly morose fashion — because maybe that would make me realize how selfish I was being by continuing to pack despite her obvious emotional discomfort."—from "Dogs Don't Understand Basic Concepts Like Moving"    

From Brosh's NPR interview (in which she talks extensively about her battles with depression):
"I feel like my writing style is sort of the result of me subconsciously trying to replicate the feel of stand-up comedy. I was very frustrated when I first started writing that there wasn't that physicality to it. It was more one-dimensional than stand-up comedy, in which you can rely on tone and facial expressions, body posture. And I wanted to find some way to commit that to the page. Drawing fixed all of those problems.... I've drawn pretty much my whole life. It's funny; people often give me a hard time about how crude and simplistic my art style is. I know how to draw realistic things. Really, a lot of time goes into this crudeness. There's a huge difference between drawing the pupil a slightly different size — ... a millimeter to either side can make such a gigantic difference in a facial expression, or shaving a tiny bit off the corner of the line of the mouth. So there's really a lot of work that goes into 'perfecting' this crudeness."

Finally, don't forget to get your copy of The Best American Comics 2013!
"Every year this book is curated by a world-class American cartoonist — one year Charles Burns, another Alison Bechdel, this year the incomparable Jeff Smith — and every year that smart curator delivers a wonderfully fat collection of the acclaimed pantheon and the absurdly obscure, of cartoonists who publish through the Big Five 'real' book publishers and cartoonists who publish through their own laser printer, folded and traded at zine cons. It's always an eye-opening experience reading this book, like opening the door to the TARDIS and seeing a nearly infinite panoply of experiences awaiting."—Comics Bulletin

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