The Annotated Wondermark: The First Anthology Collection Of The Celebrated Comic Strip (3rd Edition) by David Malki !
3 March 2006
by Mandy J Watson
Cape Town, South Africa
Hereforthwith (or whatever), a wondrous tale of the marvels of the Internet. I regularly read the webcomic Alien Loves Predator, and a couple of weeks ago a few guests contributed comic panels. One of them was by Wondermark creator David Malki ! [*]. I went to the site, saw the jocularity in which Amorous Advances are made and was hooked.
Then I noticed there was a store. And a book. I had to have it (damn Internet!). But I needed PayPal. Which I didn't have. (For a long time we couldn't use PayPal in South Africa. In fact, we can still only use it to send money.)
So I broke my boycott of PayPal (that is another long story that I won't bore you with in this review: look out for it in my blog at some point in the future, I'm sure, since I can't stop bitching about it) and signed up for an account, held both thumbs, went to the Wondermark store and bought the third edition of the book, which features an introduction by Ryan North of Dinosaur Comics and is, therefore, a must-have!
The South African postal system being as reliable as it is, I never actually expected to receive a book (you just hold out hope, really) but, a week later, there it appeared, at my house, and it had even made it through the South African postal system completely unscathed. A miracle, I tell you!
Not only did the book arrive a week later, but it arrived with Wondermark-personalised address labels and a personal note to me on the receipt. Now this is a man of substance and style, I thought to myself (and this continues to hold true if you don't read some of the more risqué comics).
I was so excited to have received the book so quickly that I read the entire thing in one sitting, which I would not necessarily recommend, as I spent the next four days thinking in snippety Wondermark punchlines and comic panels, which was a very bizarre experience. What I have learnt from this is that pacing is a virtue (and not just for comedy).
The book features the first 100 Wondermark strips, as well as some extras that you won't find on the site (and a few that you will, such as "The Making Of Wondermark"). The strips, themselves, are the most fascinating items to behold: public-domain turn-of-the-century images reworked for our turn-of-the-century times (but I'm talking about a different century here, in case you're not following) and the sense of humour of more discerning individuals. Some of the illustrations are truly bizarre, and I constantly find myself wondering what they initially were used for.
The humour often comes from non sequiturs and anachronisms (primarily, of course, the juxtaposition of modern-day dialogue with the turn-of-the-century illustrations) and what I find rather fascinating about the work is that the humour in the pieces is very dependent on the reader's mood and disposition: what you many not find at all amusing on one day you may find absolutely hysterical a few days later. However I must confess to not being smart enough to understand all the humour, but that which I do find funny, I find very, very funny, so one could call it a tradeoff. Well, I'm calling it a tradeoff.
The third edition for the book features, as I've mentioned, an introduction by Ryan North of Dinosaur Comics fame, complete with (presumably) turn-of-the-century dinosaur illustrations (or very cool fakes). There's also a bonus mature comic, hilarious "rejected" concepts, and some interactive bits. You also receive the promised autograph and series number, making this an instant collector's item.
The book is a great buy, and my only disappointment is that it doesn't feature the page titles, comic titles, and rollover comments that you will notice if you visit the site, which I think add magnificently to the wit of each piece. Perhaps the next collection will feature them.
* The exclamation mark is honorific, but not invisible. It makes no sense but I use it as I respect David !'s mad wishes since I get very upset when people won't credit me with a "J".