Welcome one and all to another edition of this, your weekly wayfaring oddballness! (hey Im a writer, I love english and I love making up new words! Oxford Dic-tionary can… never mind…)
So, today I have a whole new review lined up for your pleasure and I think you’ll find this one to be a doozy. Personally I wanted to review it before I even read it a little while ago and was so jealous I hadn’t thought of the title first because its one of the most awesome I’ve ever read:
Wicked isn’t it? yeah, I liked it too.
Anyway, this lovely little gem is the brainchild of one Shannon Wheeler, a syndicated new-strip cartoonist (talk about old-school!) who is also the creator of a fairly well-known comic-strip named after its hero: Too Much Coffee Man.
Now Wheeler has been writing his very intelligent and humorous strips filled with his own gently biting wit and satire for a decade now and Im a little sad and embarrassed to say that I only came across his fine work fairly recently. Published by the fine folks at Dark Horse comics, this is a truly one-of-a-kind books in my recent experience.
As you can see in this little image here, our hero is a bit… wierd. Well he is as clear and obvious a satirical pasticheof obvious comic concepts and a bit of a sad everyman making his way through life and the world around him – his costume (such as it is), well think about how often you’ve heard superhero outfits being referred to as some kind of underwear or spandex something or other and of course the most traditional one which cracks me up still: the long-underwear brigade!
Of course TMCM (our hero here) takes this to an extreme and actually dresses in a pair of old school long-johns, i.e., long underwear, right down to the oh-so-convenient buttoned posterior flap for.. ahem.. for when nature calls. Of course the fact that his long johns appear to be made out of spandex doesn’t help the look! I do like the mega-coffee-cup head gear though! Styling!
Anyway, this collection of lovely one-pagers has many early on starring this signature character doing what he does best – bringing us the his cynical and heartbreaking yet hysterical and caring world view on anything and everything, from love to politics and everything in between! Take this strip for example: (click to enlarge)
But there is more to this book then just following Wheeler’s signature hero.
After a bit we move on to other characters and situations and most importantly – Ideas.
In essence that is what this book is about and even though it is a collection of one-page comic shorts like the one above, each one has something that leaves you with a thought, an idea, a doubt, a feeling… something more then what it was you started with!
And in truth that was the biggest reason I had in selecting this smorgasbord of melancholy mirth that belies a sense of hope and idealism that makes you wonder and question.
Ordinarily I am not one to ever compare writers and artists if I can help it (writers more-so) because I believe it is a bit unfair and each writer has his own way of expressing a thought or feeling and comparing is very subjective in such a case. However I feel it is warranted here to make MY feeling on this clear – in some respects the combination of humour, philosophical musing, satire and seriousness reminds me of classics like Calvin and Hobbes which while fun for all ages held a deeper meaning and impact for one willing to think on it.
Of course I must admit in fairness, I loved the fact that his philosophical musings and devices in some ways made me think of Philip K. Dicks work (strange comparison, I know!) in a wierd way and him being my all-time favourite writer it did my opinion of the book more good.
As these following strips show, you can get a sampling of the wide variety of stuff that Wheeler puts in this book and I have to say this: I agonised, literally agonised about what pages to put here because for the longest time I could not pick – there is brilliance in some like one which is just a picture of two brothers with one asking, “Do you ever feel like it’s pointless?” with the two of them being shown as fish just swimming around in a fishbowl.
In the end I made this short-list of non-TMCM strips to add to the one posted above and give you a broad view of things.
If you enjoy this kind of humour and reading or simply like to have an open mind and are willing to try new things then I would highly recommend Mr. Wheeler’s latest endeavour here!
Incisive, thought provoking, irreverant, mirthful and endlessly entertaining, I eagerly look forward to his work in the future.
Till next week Wayfarers, I wish you all the best for the week ahead and the weekend in between! Cheers!