We can all use a laugh and cartoonist John Atkinson has a unique way to provide that for you with his new book, “Abridged Classics: Brief Summaries of Books You Were Supposed to Read but Probably Didn’t.” This would make a great gift for Father’s Day or just about any occasion. Atkinson is known for his comic strip, “Wrong Hands,” where he distills things down to their hilarious essence. You have probably read his funnies in Time Magazine. Well, he takes no prisoners as he distills over a hundred works of literature down to a few mere words! Very funny stuff.
“The world of the one panel comics gag shares a lot in common with the world of stand-up comedy. Either the joke works or it doesn’t. Welcome to Wrong Hands, the world of John Atkinson, where jokes make impacts.” I said that as part of my introduction to an interview I did with John Atkinson five years ago. That was long before his gig with Time Magazine. I just happened to enjoy his ongoing work that all began, and continues to take place, on a blog at WordPress. I love that Atkinson keeps it all simple and real, down to maintaining his no frills free blog just like so many of us out here in the blogosphere.
There is a lot going on in Atkinson’s deceptively simple cartoons. There’s the joke, which can unpack in your mind on a deeper level. And there’s the pared-down art, free of ego-centric expressive lines. You end up with a very zen experience. Atkinson has a lot he wants to say in his work and the magic is in how he achieves the maximum impact with as little as possible. So, it makes total sense for Atkinson to tackle some of the most celebrated books–with hilarious results.
I highly recommend that you pick yourself up a copy. It’s a fun book that you’ll want to come back to. The little hardcover book has a nice look and feel to it. But, by all means, enjoy it on your phone too, especially since Atkinson’s format fits perfectly on any screen.
“Abridged Classics: Brief Summaries of Books You Were Supposed to Read but Probably Didn’t” is a 157-page full color hardcover, published by HarperCollins.
The world of the one panel comics gag shares a lot in common with the world of stand-up comedy. Either the joke works or it doesn’t. There isn’t much room for debate. Well, maybe. But, in general, you know what I mean. It needs to make an impact pretty quickly. Welcome to Wrong Hands, the world of John Atkinson, where jokes make impacts.
Life and art are a process. You learn by doing. And you often get your best ideas when you least expect them, when you don’t seem to be doing anything more than preparing to fall asleep. That’s when John relies on his pad and pencil near his nightstand. He’ll come up with an idea and jot it down. The next morning, he’ll either gasp in disgust or be pleased by a promising new joke.
But will his audience be as receptive to this new joke as he is? Sometimes, in those solidarity moments of word play and free assocaiton, a connection will be made that is so strong that it is emboldens the cartoonist to take a stand. He’ll deliver the joke, no matter the consequences.
It becomes a matter of honor. A person will stick their neck out, all for the sake of a joke. It’s the principle of the thing: a joke for the sake of a joke. The fight is on, if needed, against all who can’t take a joke, who would rather analyze and dissect it. Everyone is entitled to their opinon but the cartoonist is there to believe in his, or her, work.
And so it goes with Mr. Atkinson’s hand in the game. In his case, it’s the “wrong hands.”