Week ending December 13, 2013
The Art of Rube Goldberg: (A) Inventive (B) Cartoon (C) Genius. Abrams. (ComicArts). 2013. 192p. sel. by Jennifer George. ISBN 9781419708527. $60; ebk. ISBN 9781613125595. COMICS
As long as humans do things the hard way, Rube Goldberg’s (1883–1970) work will be pertinent. For most, that means the classic cartoons depicting impossibly complex mechanisms that are supposed to somehow accomplish mundane tasks, like using a napkin or serving a glass of juice; the latter is re-created as an interactive work of paper engineering housed in the front cover of this oversize hardcover retrospective of Goldberg’s illustrious 72-year career. Compiler George (Goldberg’s granddaughter, a writer and a designer herself) has selected over 700 illustrations from all aspects of Goldberg’s canon, offering a wider perspective on his varied talents, coupled with essays on his life and legacy by writers and artists including The New Yorker’s Adam Gopnik and MAD Magazine’s Al Jaffee. Readers will note the care and detail Goldberg lavishes on even the goofiest contraptions, in unlikely but undeniable tribute to simplicity and elegance.
Verdict Definitive or not, this has all the Goldberg that most readers will need and more. Recommended for every audience; a must for fans of humor, illustration, design, absurdity, and ways to skewer it.—J. Osicki, Saint John Free P.L., NB
Crosby, Percy (text & illus.). Percy Crosby’s Skippy. Vol. 2: Daily Comics, 1928–1930. IDW. 2013. 336p. ISBN 9781613775899. $49.99. COMICS
Skippy Skinner is an opinionated little scamp who fidgets, fights, and philosophizes through three years of newspaper strips in this husky collection. More than just an overview of a daily cartoon newspaper installment, this is a piece of American history showcasing a little-known comic that was tremendously influential in its day. Crosby’s characters inspired movies, radio, and future strips like Peanuts, Pogo, and Calvin and Hobbes. The pen-and-ink style is quick, flexible, and well rendered throughout, providing the reader a rare graphic glimpse of city life and childhood in the United States.
Verdict The very brief biography and photos included give some insight into the troubled life of American artist and writer Crosby (1891–1964) and its eventual effect on the syndicated feature. Though visually atypical of modern-day strips, this one has a winsome charm that can be captivating. Probably not a book for the very young, this may have an appeal to young adults and most especially older comic aficionados who enjoy archival collections.—Russell Miller, Prescott P.L., AZ
Johns, Geoff (text) & Doug Mahnke & others (illus.). Green Lantern. Vol. 3: The End. DC. (New 52!). 2013. 264p. ISBN 9781401244088. $24.99; pap. ISBN 9781401246846. $19.99; ebk. ISBN 9781401248475. SUPERHERO
In this third and final volume of the saga, Johns (Green Lantern Corps) blurs the line between villain and hero in the stories of the focal characters: Sinestro, the First Lantern, and the newest recruit, Simon Baz. The fifth human to become a Lantern, Arab American Baz is a car thief wrongly accused as a terrorist because of racial profiling. Not only must he deal with the extreme prejudice hurled his way, he also has to rescue Sinestro and Hal Jordan in hopes of preventing the destruction of the universe. In Baz, Johns creates a believable, contemporary character who doesn’t necessarily fit squarely into the ideal hero profile. But his willpower is strong, and he quickly proves himself as a worthy Lantern bearer, unique to the corps and capable of exceptional feats. Baz believes in doing what must be done for the people he loves—a concept that embraces the struggles of the other protagonists and allows for elegant transitions among plotlines.
Verdict Green Lantern fans, new and seasoned, will enjoy reading this volume as Johns’s extremely approachable writing style and Mahnke’s clean and expressive art bring a satisfying conclusion to a strong and dynamic story.—Laura Gallardo, St. Louis