Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Book-A-Day 2010 # 41 (3/16) -- Cyanide & Happiness by "Kris, Rob, Matt & Dave"

There's a landrush going on right now, as publishers chase popular webcomics to pin them down into dead-tree form. Dark Horse, the major comics publisher, had an early lead, with books from Penny Arcade, Sinfest, Achewood, The Perry Bible Fellowship, and Wondermark, but the New York houses have jumped in more recently, with Random House doing a trilogy of Goats book and HarperCollins picking up this first collection of the Cyanide & Happiness strip.

Cyanide & Happiness is an oddity even by webcomics standards: it's created in turns by four young men (who joined in on the strip one by one, and didn't really know each other beforehand), who each work in a slightly different crude style -- all of which would make R.C. Harvey rend his garments in rage -- and who write, almost exclusively, about squirm-inducing topics. If John Callahan were Voltron, these four guys would be the robots that come together to make him.

Let's take a random sampling -- p.52 has a joke about mutation, p.137 is about death notification, p.76 about stillbirth, p.19 voyeurism, and so on. Nearly every page has something to offend a reader. That kind of dedication to an ideal is inspiring, and should be a model for other young cartoonists with minimal skills -- they, too, can have a very funny, and usually offensive webcomic, if only they're willing to put in the long hours of hard drinking required.

The book contains 120 strips that originally appeared online, though at least a few from the strip's earliest days have been redrawn, plus thirty brand-new strips, which are not available for free on the Internet. As I said when I got this book in for review, it's for all of us who can remember 101 Uses for a Dead Cat (or the Truly Tasteless Jokes books), or anyone who has ever memorized more than two dead baby jokes. (What, you millennial kids think you invented tasteless humor? Pshaw.) Anyone who enjoys humor that they're not sure if they should laugh at will find something very funny in Cyanide & Happiness, and possibly something else that will deeply, deeply offend them. But them's are the risks you have to take.

Book-A-Day 2010: The Epic Index
Listening to: Blue Eyed Blacks - The Wrong Thing
via FoxyTunes

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