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Dear Tiny Sepuku
posted May 7, 2003

Creators: Ken Cursoe
Publishing Information: Andrews McMeel
Ordering Numbers:

Based on the evidence in Dear Tiny Sepuku, Ken Cursoe may be the smartest cartoonist working today. A regular in alternative papers including the Seattle Weekly's bizarre melange of half-assed features, Dear Tiny Sepuku bills itself as the first interactive love advice cartoon strip. The genius of the model used is that Cursoe is basically letting his readers dictate potential comedic subject matter on which he will then happily riff. Any writer who has ever been wracked for inspiration, particularly how to mine a particular topic for one more unique take, will recognize the advantages to Cursoe's approach. In the game of musical chairs that is the high concept approach to modern cartooning, Cursoe has snagged one of the last few good seats.

The comics themselves disappoint. The emotional effect of Cursoe's style is to make everything cute, playing up the various goofy ways that love or the promise of love can change a person's behavior. The formal effect of the style is that Cursoe can quickly assemble throwaway scenes to facilitate multiple gags, largely verbal. Variations on either approach are rare to the point they stand out, and not always in a good way. Strips where the space sets up a single joke often feel like the cartoonist could only come up with one idea and therefore has to bide our time until we get there. But for the most part, like anyone practicing humor that wears on its sleeve the desire to appeal in a broad, inoffensive fashion, Cursoe has good days and bad. It's astonishing to see anyone go for an "Internet honey might be a dude" joke in the supposedly cutting-edge forum of a strip designed for urban weeklies, but some of the humor hits its very safe targets in workmanlike fashion.