Thursday, February 25, 2010

Book-A-Day 2010 # 22 (2/25) -- Stick to Drawing Comics, Monkey Brain! by Scott Adams

The book I have in front of me is doubly disposable: first, it's a collection of Scott Adams's blog posts, which are all still available online for free (though not in this particular organization, nor handily bound between covers). Second, what I read was an advance review copy -- they were being given out by the stacksfull at BEA back in 2007, and, hey, free stuff, right? -- so this physical manifestation was designed to be used by reviewers (like me) and publishing people (also like me) before publication (which took place in October 2007, meaning I'm very slow).

One of the current iron laws of publishing -- there are always several, which are guaranteed to be true right up to the moment when they don't work anymore -- is that any sufficiently popular blog will eventually become a book. A similar law states that anyone successful enough at some other art form will eventually blog for at least a little while. Add those two facts to the engineer's obsessiveness of Scott Adams -- yes, I know he was never actually an engineer, which makes it even more humorous that he's so stereotypically one -- and you can derive the Dilbert Blog from Dilbert, and, then, this book.

Stick to Drawing Comics collects somewhere around 150-200 short pieces by Adams, all of which were originally blog posts. As usual -- and as is common with his engineer type -- he's most interesting when writing about minutia, and most quirky when tackling the great problems of mankind. (Engineers stereotypically think that everything in the world can be fixed with only the tools they have at hand and simple logic; this is one reason why engineers are never ever allowed to run anything larger than the communal lunch.) Adams is a deeply quirky individual, and knows it, which is both endearing and occasionally offputting. He's not nearly as arrogant as I would be if I were as successful as he is, either. He also both has a skewed view of the entire world and is very good at one-liners, which makes reading short essays by him very enjoyable; in general, the longer pieces in this book are the less successful ones.

The only reason to buy this book would be if you want to read the Dilbert Blog in the smallest room of your house and don't have a smartphone or laptop that would make that comfortable; it's purely a port of the blog, without any new content that I could discern. (OK, there is a five-page introduction, but you could read that standing by the shelf in Borders or via a certain online retailer's Search Inside the Book feature.) Even better, the Dilbert Blog has new content -- not available in this two-year-old book -- regularly. So, once again, new media rules. But, if you happened to get a copy of this book free at a major book-industry trade show, it's definitely entertaining enough to be worth reading.

Book-A-Day 2010: The Epic Index
Listening to: Harvey Danger - Cream And Bastards Rise
via FoxyTunes

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