One of the nice things about Bookmunch is that it affords us the odd review copy or two. That’s what we get in exchange for us blahing on about whichever book it is we’ve decided to blah on about that day. What’s more, because we’ve been blahing on now for about ten years or more, publishers know that if we get sent a book it’s more likely than not that we’ll review the thing. Which is nice. For the most part. Occasionally, it can get a bit ugly (there is a publisher, naming no names, who ignores all of our requests for books and then once in a blue moon asks us if we’ll review or interview one of their authors, which we’ll bend over to accommodate in the hope that it leads to a new plateau of friendship in which we get sent books to review – only for ignorance to rapidly re-establish itself when they’ve had the coverage they want – very, very shoddy); occasionally we don’t get the books we want (if they won’t send us Hilary Mantel, we won’t review it); occasionally, we might have a grumble along the lines of ‘what are we doing this for if we’re not being sent the books we want?!?’ – but for the most part, it all works.
I say all of this by way of preamble. D&Q, a respected comics publisher, will not send us review copies so a great many of their books will go unreviewed on Bookmunch. Which is a shame. However, we love Tom Gauld. We loved his book, Goliath. We loved his book, The Gigantic Robot. We love his weekly cartoon in the Guardian. We have a Tom Gauld print on the wall in our bathroom. We’re wearing a Tom Gauld robot tshirt we bought from BoingBoing as we type this. We buy his books (which, you should know, in a world of free books is a big deal). More than this, in spite of not being sent free Tom Gauld books, we are taking time to write a favourable review of his new book, You’re All Just Jealous of my Jetpack – we do this because, in spite of the paucity of D&Q’s publicity budget, Tom Gauld is a storyteller who warrants our enthusiastic support. So: big upraised middle finger to D&Q; hearty jazz hands for Tom Gauld.
What you get in You’re All Just Jealous of my Jetpack are about 150 cartoons, a great many of which are hilarious, in a laugh out loud fashion, often feeling like mini-novels in their own right (the cartoon that opens the book seems to skit Sam Savage’s Firmin, concerning as it does a mouse who doesn’t put food away for the winter because he wants to finish reading Ulysses; this is bookended by a piece at the close of the book in which a King writes a poem about his beautiful castle, despite the enemy at the gates – a poem that ends up a paean to beautiful ruins). Gauld is also a great satirist of both the literary life (there is a cartoon in which a young man asks a publisher if said publisher will publish his short stories – publisher says no; a hilarious roundtable on DH Lawrence covers; a laptop languishes) and literature in general (Gauld riffs on everyone from Shakespeare through Hemingway and Philip Pullman). There are also great sci-fi jokes (a complex literary heroine abandons her beau because he’s a sci-fi hero), clever cultural asides (seven cartoons describe what will be added to the film version of your novel – these include explosions, dance routines and dream sequences), historical interludes (ranging from 25,000 BC to the court of King James 1 in 1611), apocryphal Bible stories (I defy anyone not to chuckle in the face of Jesus commiserating with his Dad who sits reading The God Delusion in a funk) and dozens of other cartoons impossible to slot into such narrow defiles.
All told, You’re All Just Jealous of my Jetpack is an extremely pleasant way to while away a few hours and, like all Tom Gauld’s books, it repays continued rereads.
Any Cop?: Gauld goes from strength to strength and his latest collection is as good as anything he’s done before.