If you dabbled with the delights of You’re All Just Jealous of My Jetpack, or indeed sip at the cup of his regular offerings in the Guardian, New Scientist and New Yorker, you probably don’t need much encouragement to jump into a new collection of Gauld’s cartoons. What you’ve got here are about 150 offerings, largely pulled (we imagine) from the above esteemed publications.
A great many centre on books, reading, authors and the literary life – although there are (as you’d expect) forays into the worlds of science (and science fiction). Gauld has an interesting mind, and book to book ploughs interesting furrows. He has a number of styles when it comes to the construction of his individual cartoons ranging from what we’ll call ‘the explored idea’ (a series of images under a common heading – such as what happened to lost books, the formats a new novel is available in, the different types of person in an angry mob etc) to single frame exchanges (‘The Snooty Bookshop’, ‘The Auteur Directs a Superhero Movie’, ‘The Humour Archaeologists’), from what you might call more standard sequential strips (‘Planning Neil Gaiman’s ‘Norse Mythology’ Book Tour’ is a highlight) to light artistic parody (the untitled Lowry skit is a hoot).
Most importantly, there are cartoon here that are laugh out loud (if you judge things according to the six laughs test – ie if something makes you laugh six times it can’t be all bad – then know that this is a book that exceeds the sixty laughs test). There are cartoons here that elicit laughs that feel like they have already existed, laughs that existed before you, laughs that occur like memories because the instant you see the cartoon you can’t remember a time when you hadn’t seen and laughed at said cartoon. So whether it’s ‘Previously unknown final chapters of ‘Charlie and the Chocolate Factory” (or ‘Forgotten Chapters of Jane Austen’s Emma’), ‘The Manifesto Writers Get Feedback from the Focus Group’ (“They love the claptrap, hogwash and baloney. There was a positive response to the tripe, flim-flam and piffle. But there was a general feeling that we could do with a bit more mumbo-jumbo, waffle and poppycock.”) or any of the hundred and however many others, know that there is pleasure here and joy and laughs aplenty.
Any Cop?: Tom Gauld has not yet stepped wrong. This is another beauty.