Sunday, August 08, 2010

Book-A-Day 2010 # 186 (8/8) -- Speed Bump by Dave Coverly

Dave Coverly's Speed Bump is a solid entry in the post-Far Side single-panel genre; it's occasionally obscure, and occasionally too obvious, but generally right in the middle -- consistently funny, with jokes that don't feel just the same as everyone else's jokes.

This book, I learn from Coverly's website, is the middle of the three Speed Bump collections to date; it has cartoons from 1999-2003. Luckily, Coverly doesn't work much with topical references -- then again, with newspaper cartoon lead-times, who can afford to use topical references? -- so it doesn't feel particularly dated. It's got well over two hundred cartoons (I didn't count them all), arranged into general thematic sections like "Relationships," "Jobs," and "Animals" -- the categories are broad enough, and the cartoons different enough, that the book doesn't feel repetitious. Otherwise, it's a book full of single-panel non-continuity cartoons, so every page has at least one joke, and sometimes up to four. There's also a 32-page color section near the end; color doesn't add a huge amount to these cartoons, but Coverly's watercolors do add some visual interest.

Coverly's a somewhat mild, midwestern kind of cartoonist -- another one of his major outlets is Parade magazine -- so you don't go to him looking for boundary-stretching. On the other hand, you also don't go to Coverly for bad puns, or political axe-grinding on any side, or the fossilized jokes of a strip creator who died in 1953 -- so, on balance, it's a pretty good trade-off. And, hey!, he won the Reuben last year, the highest award for a newspaper cartoonist. So, according to the NCS, he is the greatest cartoonist in the world right now.
Book-A-Day 2010: The Epic Index

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