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Sam Henderson's Magic Whistle #11
posted July 15, 2008
Alternative Comics, softcover, 96 pages, July 2008, $11.95
If there was ever any doubt that we're in the graphic novel age above and beyond all other formats and presentational choices, I assert this clinches it: Sam Henderson, whose talent with gags, short stories and written humor was practically created in a test tube to fill a twice-yearly or quarterly comic book, instead does a $12 trade paperback annual. I can't tell you how much this just seems wrong to me. It's like asking Elvis Costello to turn Get Happy! into a rock opera, or asking Dave Chappelle to begin his inevitable comedy comeback by dropping his more standard way of telling jokes and moving into long, Billy Connolly-type stories. In fact, squarebound Sam Henderson seems so wrong to me I can't come up with a very good comparison.
Luckily, the content is appropriately ragged and Henderson remains very, very funny. This issue features several comics much more aggressive than usual in pushing the cartoonist's conspiratorial take on being funny through the vehicle of fretting over why something is or isn't funny, like "The Groucho Duck" and "Merry Christmas, Dudes and Dudettes!" There are fewer of the more abstract exercises along those same lines, Henderson's other deep reservoir of strips, although I found a Dirty Danny feature where he re-writes the Emancipation Proclamation into idiotic filthy-talk amusing in its set the bar, clear the bar rhythm. Best of all is a run of written material and asides, from an article about cliches in the spirit of the "always funny" pieces to the usual run of demented letters that Henderson tends to assemble for maximum scruffiness. I still miss the staples, and I wish one of these showed up on my doorstep more frequently, but it's not like I'm ever going to stop reading the thing. I mean, look: even the author's photo is funny.
full disclosure: Sam Henderson provided the cartoon at the top of this site, which remains the single thing my family likes most about CR, so I'm probably full of shit