Wednesday, October 05, 2022

Cryptid Club by Sarah Andersen

So I like reading books of quick, funny cartoons, and I like writing posts about the books I read. But those two impulses don't really work all that well together.

I blame society.

For everything, but this in particular.

Anyway, I just read Sarah Andersen's new book of cartoons, Cryptid Club, which collects a whole bunch of mostly 4-panel cartoons about - yes, you guessed it, cryptids! It is funny and I enjoyed every single page of it (even the more obscure cryptids that I had to look up, which I will go into more detail below), but there's not really a whole lot more to say other than "this is a book of funny cartoons about a bunch of cryptids, who are friends and hang out together as well as being the scary monsters we know them as, more or less."

I'm not sure if these appeared anywhere else first - this is the kind of thing that could have been a recurring feature in a wider webcomic - or just a big batch of variations on a theme done specifically to make a book. That doesn't matter, I guess, but if they did appear online, and I knew where that was, I could give you a link to get a sense of the material here.

Oh! I should mention that the line art is all Andersen, but this is all in full color, and the color is a huge part of the appeal - it's spooky and garish and bright and creepy in turn to make the jokes work. Colors are by Celi Godfried, assisted by Kayla Nicole, who did flatting for the book. (I know "flatting" is a thing in books of cartoon color art, and I think it's a semi-mechanical process - tedious and maybe finnicky but probably not directly creative in the first instance - but I don't know the details and will forget them if anyone tries to explain to me.)

OK, so the deal here is that all of these folks - Mothman, Nessie, Bigfoot, Kraken, Chupacabra, and so on - are all real, all know each other, and all sort of hang out somewhere, despite the fact that they supposedly live all over the world. There are a lot of "we're camera shy" jokes, and more dating material than I would have expected. And, obviously specific jokes about their individual deals - Chupacabra sucks on goats, Mothman is attracted to lights, Bigfoot is sensitive about the size of his feet.

Andersen has an engaging, cartoony style here, which occasionally makes some of her cryptids look an awful lot like each other. Specifically: the Flatwoods Monster and Mothman are not only both from the same geographical region, but Andersen draws them to have basically the same head, and then draws them in close-up a lot. (Flatwoods does wear a hooded dress, while Mothman is a giant unclothed moth - I'm not saying I can't tell them apart, just that it can cause a moment of confusion.)

Even more so, the Fresno Nightwalkers - and props to you if you've heard of them; I hadn't - look almost exactly like ghosts, except the Nightwalkers bottoms clearly bifurcate into feet that touch the ground, and the ghosts don't do that consistently. But, otherwise, yeah, basically the same outline and eyes. Luckily, Andersen gives the Nightwalkers fabulous shoes pretty quickly, which helps a lot.

Again, this is a book of loosely connected cartoons about a medium-size cast of goofball monsters. I'm publishing this post way out of sequence, so I can get it out quickly - my guess is that this was published pre-Halloween for a reason, and I'm trying to hit that window as well. If you want a new funny book for the spooky season this year, this is is available and it's a good choice.

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