We are in a golden age of comics, specifically webcomics. We all have our favorites that we follow. Cartoonist David Daneman brings together some of the best work out there. Last year he presented Launch Party which proved a success. This year, it’s Art Block, with a whole new group of talent. A Kickstarter campaign in support of this new project launches March 4 and runs for a month. Check it out right here.
“Projects like this are the reason we get up in the morning. When David calls, we’re in.”
—Jonathan Kunz & Elizabeth Pich, War and Peas
~75 strips from 25 different artists
–Full color interior
~$20.00 (usd) + shipping/handling
–Ships anywhere in the world
In 2017, Montreal-based cartoonist David Daneman realized he had found a niche to fill in the comics ecosystem. The type of comics he loves, short and funny gag-strips, are increasingly published but rarely in anthology form. Under the name The Original Content Collective, Daneman published the 2018 proof of concept book, Launch Party, and paid all of his contributors a fee per comic plus a share of the profits. Building on the success of Launch Party, Daneman returns this year with Art Block, a new anthology with a new crew of cartoonists and including some very impressive titles: Poorly Drawn Lines, Cassandra and The Perry Bible Fellowship, to name a few. Kris Wilson, author of Cyanide and Happiness, will write the introduction.
I still remember the sting and utter humiliation during an improv class when I was asked to tell a joke and I froze. I thought I knew what to expect from acting and improv but I wasn’t ready that night to tell a simple joke! Now, I have discovered a fine book that I wish I had with me all long: THE OFFICIAL DC SUPER HERO JOKE BOOK! This book will save your comedic bacon no matter what your age and is published by Downtown Bookworks.
Page from THE OFFICIAL DC SUPER HERO JOKE BOOK
There are more than 600 puns, knock-knocks, one-liners, riddles, gags, and tongue twisters! Use it at parties. Use it on dates, depending on the date, of course. And definitely use it to bring a smile to anyone’s face. How about a way to get a rambunctious kid’s attention? Everyone loves a good joke. This book is chock full of them in an eye-popping colorful presentation.
Page from THE OFFICIAL DC SUPER HERO JOKE BOOK
As you can see from the samples, these are smart and funny jokes. A little here about the authors: Noah Smith is a comedy writer who has worked for Saturday Night Live; Sarah Parvis is a children’s book author; and Michael Robin is an author and librarian.
THE OFFICIAL DC SUPER HERO JOKE BOOK is a full color 176-page trade paperback for ages 6 and up, published by Downtown Bookworks. You can also find it at Amazon right here.
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.”
If the humanism that makes civilization civilized is to be preserved into the
new century, it will need advocates. These advocates will need a memory, and
part of that memory will need to be of an age in which they were not yet alive.
— Clive James, “Cultural Amnesia: Necessary Memories from History and the Arts.”
My friend, Roy, was telling me all about his favorite radio station, WFMT and its celebrated “The Midnight Special” program where folk and satire and oddball antics collide. It used to be more common to find eccentric shows on the radio dial. Thanks to YouTube, if you know where to go, you can still find a lot of treasures. And, of course, you can still tune in to WFMT and listen to “The Midnight Special” archives whenever you want or check the “The Midnight Special” site for a station that carries the syndicated show.
Here are just three personalities from yesteryear that Roy mentioned to me in relation to his adventures in late night radio. There are plenty more but I thought it interesting to focus on these three as a set given that I did not find them through trial and error but from a real human being. These are entertainers you would have found on the radio in the ’50s to ’60s: Flanders & Swann, Anna Russell and Tom Lehrer. What do they share in common? Well, Roy loves them and that’s really a good place to start. Given what I know about Roy and my initial sampling, all three of these acts have a wry sense of humor and love of musical whimsy.
Tom Lehrer – “The Elements Song” This may be your lucky day, or night, if you’re new to this song. It is a major hipster find that keeps being covered by new artists.
You start to think about it, these entertainers, perhaps more obscure for some audiences, will bring to mind other entertainers from that time period, Victor Borge, The Smothers Brothers, Woody Allen, and then other entertainers up to the present, They Might Be Giants, Flight of the Conchords, Sarah Silverman. It’s all just a matter of keeping an eye out for new talent, new to you. One of the most asked questions by casual observers is a very direct and honest question, “How do you find out about all this stuff?” It’s not a question to dismiss by any means! The answer, my friend, is blowing in the wind: Just ask, search around, pan for gold, if you will. Not so long ago, one of the most respected ways of stumbling upon something cool and new was to go look in the bins at your local record shop. You know, with the passion for vinyl unabated, specialty shops are still there for you to explore.
Remember the movie, “High Fidelty,” about a record shop owner, played winningly by John Cusack, and his staff who were walking encyclopedias of pop culture? All very pre-internet. You were sort of at the mercy of the hipster geeks who seemed to have hoarded all the information. A small price to pay in retrospect. Either they took pity on you, actually liked you, or cast you out as soon as they set eyes on you.
Remember Jack Black in that movie? He was the ultimate gatekeeper of cool. If he didn’t think you could handle it, or should handle it, out you went.
Pretend Jack Black decided you were okay and recommended to you Flanders & Swann, Anna Russell and Tom Lehrer.
This is all part of a grand continuum. It’s a particular mindset: folky, lefty, offbeat. A way of life. So many interconnections. Until next time, chin up, and don’t forget the patron saint of lowkey deadpan humor…
My WordPress brother, Will Bailey, of NailsBails, inspired me to rant a bit on the subject of human noise pollution. Now, I won’t even get into leaf blowers, that’s a whole universe unto itself. Oh, that reminds me, there’s an awesome movie starring Tim Robbins who plays a guy at war with all the car alarms that go off near his apartment in New York City. It is oh so aptly entitled, “Noise.” He moves to the suburbs and then has to deal with leaf blowers. Needless to say, he doesn’t handle any of it well. I’m not saying I’m on the verge of becoming unhinged over my pet peeve but a peeve is a peeve and so here goes.
I live in a vibrant neighborhood, I suppose. Lots of stuff going on and that leads to a number of random human interaction about this and about that. Why, I ask, can’t these conversations be held at a normal speaking volume. No, these conversations, the ones my ears helplessly pick up while I’m trying to engage in something I consider significant (blogging!) or just passively doing something marginal (blogging?), are quite distracting and annoying.
Here’s a classic pet peeve: The endless farewells. My neighbors are like caught in midstep, immobilized by supposedly interesting conversation. It seems like they’re just about to go but they’re not going anywhere. They won’t budge. This is always true about any group that has just finished meeting. It’s the meeting after the meeting and it occurs just as everyone appears to have said their final goodbyes. Why do this? Could it get any worse? Well, sure, anything can get worse. What is worse are the unwanted conversations blasting into one’s home coming from just down the street. There are two main types. One is the party people roaming around after last call. Sure, they’re very happy and life is grand but do I have to hear about it when, instead, I’d much rather be…sleeping?
The other one on my mind: Contractors involved in some project of great significance…to them! The lead contractor usually is quite proud of himself and feels compelled to describe the project in all its glorious details repeatedly ad nauseam. Again, I ask, why do this? I don’t care if something is really going to be a devil to complete and it will require certain attributes and resources to get the job not only done but done right. It’s painful to hear. It doesn’t require listening. It just streams right into my poor innocent bystander ears. Maybe it would be tolerable if it lasted for only a little while but, no, this is marathon blathering.
Alright, I feel better, at least for now. It’s only temporary. I will still cringe at the sound of unexpected laughter. You’d think anyone would welcome unexpected laughter. But, no, it’s not always welcome, especially coming from an overzealous contractor, with unlimited energy, all set to explain to anyone within earshot what he’s about to do, what he’s already done, what he had for lunch, what he plans to have for lunch, and so on.