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You're All Just Jealous of His Jetpack

Tom Gauld's new collection of comics takes off flying

By Wayne Alan Brenner, 11:30AM, Wed. Jun. 5, 2013

The Object Being Considered Here
The Object Being Considered Here

I don't know what to tell you here, except that, if you like comics, you'll probably like this collection of comics by Tom Gauld. But that if you also like literary things, then you'll love this collection of comics by Tom Gauld.

No, really.

I don't know what it is with Canada's Drawn & Quarterly, that they seem to've become the main source for cartoonists' tongue-in-cheek homages and skewerings of literature both modern and classic (cf., Kate Beaton's Hark a Vagrant!), but, well, I mean, they have.

[Of course, direct transformations of literature from text to sequential art, that's well-covered by The Graphic Canon from Seven Stories Press – but we're not talking about that here.]

As the parenthetically mentioned [see above] Beaton's linework is as flowy and wildly expressive as her subjects' roflworthy shenanigans, so is Gauld's drawing style as minimalist and controlled as his dry, dry humor in You're All Just Jealous of My Jetpack.

Even before you started reading this recommendation, even if you didn't know Gauld's name, you might've seen that one-panel of his that was a bit, ah, viralesque in certain portions of the Internet: The Street Tom Waits Grew Up On.

Yeah, you've seen that? Just a cartoony drawing of an urban street seen from a distance, with an identifying caption below it: "(L-R) Vern's All-Nite Pizza 'n' Tattoo, Accordion Players' Graveyard, Abandoned Clown-Shoe Factory, Divorced Salesmen's Polka Club, Tomb of the Unknown Cabbie, Bootleg Ice-Cream Warehouse, Saint Frank's Hobo Orphanage, Illegal Umbrella Incinerator."

Like I said: Dry, baby, dry.

And this collection from Drawn & Quarterly – and we're not even going to belabor the perfection of the book-as-object, here, because by now it's cliché to equate D&Q with publishing elegance – this horizontally rectangular hardcover has many other mild-colored cartoons of that ilk, archly namechecking and graphically winking at Charles Dickens, Margaret Mitchell, Dan Brown, Martin Amis, Emile Zola, Paris Hilton, and others. And of course the general literary scene with all its hoary trappings and critical prejudices.

No, really: Paris Hilton.

But that's not all! In this same collection: The Unorphaned Children's Book Heroine! Mao DIscussing the "Little Red Book" With His Editor! An Ant Remembers the Making of Un Chien Andalou! Psychiatric Action Stories!

Have I mentioned how dry this simply drawn humor is? Deliciously so: Like S.J. Perelman teaming up with Kevin Huizenga to extend the more bibliophilic wackinesses of B. Kliban until it makes the ghost of Saki smile.

Like, to be precise, Tom Gauld creating a collection of comics called You're All Just Jealous of My Jetpack.

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