Thursday, May 25, 2023

Dog Butts and Love. And Stuff Like That. And Cats. by Jim Benton

I think this is the first book I've ever seen with three periods in the title. I don't see periods in titles a whole lot. Colons, definitely - there was a time, especially back in my SFBC days, when a day didn't go by without a book with multiple colons [1] - but periods are much rarer.

The old grammarian in me wants to insist that this title has three periods but not three sentences, since they're all fragments, but that guy's a dull fuddy-duddy, and who cares what he says, anyway?

Anyway: Dog Butts and Love. And Stuff Like That. And Cats. A collection of humorous comics - mostly multi-panel, but not falling into any regular format like 4-koma or daily newspaper strip - by Jim Benton, originally posted on this here Internet more than a decade ago and collected into this book in 2014 by the fine folks at NBM. Benton is a very prolific creator of comics-like stuff and illustrated prose, though most of his output has been licensed properties [2] and/or for younger readers, so you might not know his work.

But he brought the world It's Happy Bunny (the '00s icon with a sunny little figure and captions like "hi, loser"), Dear Dumb Diary and Frannie K. Stein, among about a dozen others. So you have definitely seen his work, even if you don't know the name. If you have had contact with younger readers over about the past twenty-five years, they likely read and enjoyed Benton stuff.

This, though, is different: the same snarky attitude, but aimed at adults, and originally thrown out into the world (on Reddit) randomly and not part of any commercial enterprise.

Some of them are sweet or life-affirming, but most of them are darker than that - it's humor, and darkness is just funnier than happiness. There's a lot of random death, a fair bit of directed death, and several boob jokes.(Benton is a man, so they're men's boob jokes, along the lines of "aren't they awesome?" Women's boob jokes tend to be more like "hey, this bra doesn't make me feel like killing someone!")

Humor is always subjective. The edgier, more adult or mean it is, the more so. Benton, here, is getting pretty solidly into that territory - that's the point, I think, since he did so much other work where he couldn't swear, and tween girls aren't really into his kind of boob jokes - so your reaction will depend heavily on whether you like that kind of humor. (And the cover + title might make you think this is an inoffensive "cute animals are cute!" kind of fluff, which it is definitely not.)

For me, this is good and fun. I've already added Benton's ongoing similar output on GoComics, and have noticed that he has a second similar collection, Man, I Hate Cursive, which I expect to be getting to soon.

[1] e.g. Stellar Conflicts: Check Out Our Brand New Continuity: Decisions and Dogfights: Dogfights, Part II. Likely 12th in a sequence of 92.

[2] As far as I can tell, they're mostly properties he licensed to publishers and merch vendors, which is the way things should be. But the term often means "work for hire," which is the opposite.

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