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All We Ever Do Is Talk About Wood
posted March 27, 2008


Creator: Tom Horacek
Publishing Information: Drawn and Quarterly, softcover, 72 pages, March 2008, $9.95
Ordering Numbers: 9781897299487 (ISBN13)

imageThe first book of single panel humor from Tom Horacek will probably get knocked for being overpriced at $9.95, and that would be too bad. With its reduced size and handsome overall presentation, it reminds me less of a modern comic and more a classic jokebook from the '50s and '60s, the kind of novelty items for adults that kids my age pulled out of their parents' bookshelves and read on the shag carpet underneath the Picasso print of Don Quixote. Good news: most of the gags are funny. Better news: what's funny isn't dependent on one kind of joke. In fact, All We Ever Do Is Talk About Wood reads like a sampler of sturdy approaches to gag humor, New Yorker and related magazines division. There are panels that turn on one small detail, role reversals, anthropomorphic transference (when animals act like people), exaggerated consequences and twisted turns of phrase. It's solid work throughout, and it's clear the cartoonist understands the value of economical text. I wasn't quite as taken with Horacek's basic visual style. His drawings may remind one of a Fisher-Price world, only with shrunken bodies instead of limbless, round ones. In some panels that choice works -- his figures look great sitting down, or behind a desk or plopped down at a bar. But when the jokes call for full-figure drawing, I found myself processing the bodies as completely withered and, well, messed up, and for a second or two every time out I tried to figured out if the pitiful state of their bodies is supposed to be part of the gag.