Wednesday, June 09, 2010


I had heard of Mort Walker thanks to the Beetle Bailey strips adorning the Sunday Times. Years later, I found out about the The Lexicon of Comicana and relished the pleasure of screaming grawlixes! as an alternative to cussing (mostly in private, however, for fear of being strapped and led away in a white van). The lexicon helped me bridge the gap between his most famous comic strip and what was to offer me the most interesting comic book experience since Watchmen, The Dark Knight Returns and Sandman, his collaboration with Jerry Dumas.

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Sam, the title character of Sam's Strip, runs the comic strip Sam's Strip and is fully aware of being in the comic strip that he runs. Each strip offers a gag (and the occasional political nod) featuring Sam, his unnamed sidekick (later to be christened Silo in a follow-up series) and cameos from other characters from the world of comics (Blondie, Popeye, Charlie Brown) and fiction (Humpty Dumpty) and real life (Charlie Chaplin). The gags and jokes often challenge the world of comics -- characters know about the conventions of the strip they exist in; all the tropes (gloom clouds, black eyes, sleep logs) of comic strips are available in a cartoon prop closet; there are howlers and groaners, nice and terrible puns, interesting takes on famous jokes and scores of famous names dropped about.

The collection subtitled "The Comic About Comics" offers all the strips along with an introduction and an appendix of notes. Highly recommended.

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