Saturday, October 18, 2014

Book-A-Day 2014 #289: The Potpourrific Great Big Grab Bag of Get Fuzzy by Darby Conley

During the last run of Book-A-Day, four years ago -- it was Day 155, actually -- I covered a treasury collection of Darby Conley's Get Fuzzy newspaper strip.

(Return with us to those thrilling days of yesteryear!)

At the time, I noticed that I'd somehow missed the prior book, The Potpourrific Great Big Grab Bag of Get Fuzzy, which collected strips covering 2005 and some space either side. I'm not as up-to-date in my strip-comic reprints as I used to be -- there was a while in the '90s when I was seriously collecting all the back Doonesbury books, plus buying the new collections from three or four other strips -- but I guess I do fill in the holes eventually. So I've now finally bought and read the Grab Bag, which is as amusing and character-based as all of Get Fuzzy -- though the few elliptical topical references are a bit odd almost a decade later.

Pretty much everything I could say about this book I've already said about the fifth and sixth treasury editions -- I also looked at The Stinking, number six, about a year ago -- so this will be short. Get Fuzzy is the chamber comedy of modern comic strips, set almost entirely in one apartment with three characters; Rob Wilco, the vegetarian, vaguely nerdy, rugby-loving ad copywriter; Satchel, his good-natured, optimistic, and entirely dim dog; and Bucky, the scheming, sociopathic, and luckily almost completely incompetent cat. Occasionally other characters wander into this triangle, and even less occasionally the three venture outside -- there's a vacation trip to Maine covering a couple of weeks of the middle of this book -- but the core of the strip is as stark as a Beckett play.

Conley wrings dependable humor out of those three characters, and has something of Charles Shulz's ability to ring small changes on the same concepts to generate new permutations. This particular book is a good example of the strengths of the strip in its mature mode: those topical references are pretty rare, making Get Fuzzy relatively timeless. This is a strip only a little over a decade old and still by its original creator -- that counts as blinding originality and bleeding-edge newness in the ossified world of the newspaper strip. More importantly, it's funny and Conley has a nice precise line.

Book-A-Day 2014 Introduction and Index

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