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Humor Can Be Funny!
posted September 13, 2005
Alternative Comics, $11.95, 128 pages
Apparently, I've already reviewed this book, because there's a little snake on the back cover speaking in my voice with an appropriately praiseworthy joke. It's good to hear the so-depressed-he-spent-months-blacked-out version of me is as amused as the resigned-to-misery version. Not a lot has changed since my initial recommendation. I like Sam Henderson's comics. I think they're funny, and I think they are also occasionally quite smart. His work can be so ragged visually that it's difficult for some people to think of a trade paperback as his most appropriate venue, and I'm not sure I disagree but unless Sam were some sort of mini-comics true believer I don't think it's fair to penalize him for choosing expedient venues that sell better in more places.
A couple of things that are funny about reading this material now is that this book is really, really dense when compared to a lot of similar collections that come out these days -- there's a lot of writing, and analysis, and material that makes this difficult to wrap up effectively in one setting. The nature of a lot of those pieces are dissections of humor, which are fun to read, but I always thought put Henderson in a difficult place. People don't just read Henderson's comics to see if they're funny, they hold him to a really high standard of having too provide seamless, perfect comedy. It's like a restaurant providing instructions on it napkins as to what makes a great steak merely a good one. Perhaps a second look at this volume will reclaim for Henderson permission from some readers to make comics that are funny without defining humor itself.