Wednesday, June 27, 2007

2 Fantastic New Book Collections (aka Shameless Plugs)

Today, I just got 2 new book sets in the mail: The Complete Calvin & Hobbes & The Complete Far Side.

For years, I've been going ga-ga over Bill Watterson's strip Calvin & Hobbes. Besides the fact that the comic is hilariously funny, the drawings themselves are absolutely & astoundingly gorgeous. Each Calvin & Hobbes strip was painstakingly & beautifully inked by Watterson himself, unlike most of the comics seen in the funny papers today (comics such as Garfield quickly come to mind). Besides this & comics like Mutts & Zits, all newspaper comics nowadays look like garbage. Period.

The set comes with three volumes of each & every comic strip (both dailies & Sundays) & book cover illustrations spanning the course of the entire history of Calvin & Hobbes, from 1985 to 1995. Enough transmogrifying tales, "Welcome Home" tiger pounces, 6-year old daydreams, high-speed wagon crashes & Spaceman Spiff adventures to make your eyes & mouth water with ecstasy.

The comic is not only funny, but heartwarming & charming as well. Many of the strips also contain moral lessons, messages, observations & social commentary on life, death, religion, culture, the environment, the media & politics.

This is probably the last great comic to ever hit the press. If you are a fan of Calvin & Hobbes or great comic illustration in general, you gotta buy this collection before they're gone. They're already starting to become hard to find. It may be a little pricey, but it's worth it.

Besides Calvin & Hobbes, Far Side is the only other comic that actually makes me laugh out loud. Although the drawings themselves are somewhat simple & crude, each comic is pure gold. Gary Larson is a complete & utter genius (paleontologists now classify a stegosaurus' tail spikes as a "thagomizer", named after the joke in this comic below:)

"Now this end is called the thagomizer, after the late Thag Simmons."

Every single one of Larson's stabs at religion, science, nature & history spanning the course of the comic's life from 1980 to 1995 are included in this set. Like the Calvin & Hobbes set, this set is somewhat pricey & is getting harder & harder to find, but you definitely should consider picking this set up.

So many cows!


Anonymous said...

Hey Mike,
I've been meaning to get these sets myself. True story, over at my dads appartment (he lives in the upstairs of someones house) there were a bunch of farside books lying around apparently left over by the landlords son. I spent a lot of time reading those books cover to cover.
I'm really surprised that you like Zits. To me it's just patronizing stereotypical tripe that isn't funny, but to each his own.
The awesome thing about Calvin and Hobbes is as you said that it is both hilariously funny and magnificently drawn. Watterson had a real passion for what he did. The lush drawings of some of the strips weren't there neccesary to help tell the joke, but they were rather there to throw the reader into a different universe. To make him almost feel what Calvin was feeling. And that made the strip all the funnier.
Other comics to check out are Krazy Kat and Pogo. Another single panel cartoonist to read is John Thurber. He was a cartoonist for the New Yorker and he wrote short stories. His comics had so much packed into them its hard to describe but the man was hilarious. Although his artistry makes Gary Larson look like Da Vinci, but as I firmly believe not all cartoons need lush art to get their point across. So if you haven already READ JOHN THURBER.
Oh and Mike I've been getting current Life in Hell comics e-mailed to me. Would you like me to e-mail them to you?
Your Fan,
David Spector

Michael J. Ruocco said...

Hey Dave!

Actually, I don't like Zits. What I meant to say was that it is a well drawn comic. Very sketchy, which is what I like.

It's true, you don't need lavish art to move the story along, but it's definitely an added bonus. In Calvin & Hobbes, each Spaceman Spiff strip is so lush & amazing that each one should be framed & hung in the Metro. Same with Pogo & Krazt Kat.

There's another blog somewhere (I can't remember the name) that uploads all the old Krazy Kat strips. They are absolutely beautiful, each & every one.

As for Pogo... they're now making "Complete Volumes" like they're doing with Peanuts. You know, 2 books a year. The Pogo set'll be around 12 volumes & Peanuts is ending at 25. Can you believe that?! The last Peanuts strips won't come out until 2016! I can't blame 'em for doing that, since Pogo & Peanuts lasted for decades.

I actually bought the Complete New Yorker Cartoons a few months ago & it contains a lot of James Thurber stuff. I have to admit, even though the drawings are simple, you can definitely tell what's going on in each cartoon, even though all the gags & jokes in the cartoons are very high brow. A lot of them go right over my head.

I always liked Groening's Life in Hell strips, so I'd love to have you email LiH comics to me. Thanks!

Forbes Browne said...

These are definitely two of my favourites. Charles Adams is another; very dark and witty sense of humour. If you're looking for another large book of cartoons I can thoroughly recommend 'The Complete Cartoons of the New Yorker'. It comes free with a CD archive. The quality of drawing and style in the early C20th cartoons is really inspirational.

Michael J. Ruocco said...

Mr. Browne, thanks for popping by my little blog!

Actually, I DO have that particular "New Yorker" set, CD & all. I haven't checked out the CD yet, but the book is wonderful. I believe there are some Charles Addams stuff in that, since he drew for the New Yorker too.