Tom Spurgeon's Web site of comics news, reviews, interviews and commentary

Home > CR Reviews

Cryptic Wit
posted August 29, 2005


Creator: Gerald Jablonski
Publishing Information: 40 pages, $3, Self-Published
Ordering Numbers: Cryptic Wit can be ordered for $5.00 postage paid from Gerald Jablonski, PO Box 385, North Greece, NY 14515

This is another amazing book from the mysterious Gerald Jablonski, approximately a decade after his last major publication. Jablonski works in dizzying variations off a few basic structural set-ups. With maybe an exception or two depending how far you want to go in terms of defining story, what he works with here are a barnyard fable, a father-son conflict and a fantasy confrontation between two boys. Each story meanders to an often silly conclusion. What sets Jablonski apart from even other like-minded absurdists is his work with dialogue. In a randomly selected 1-inch wide by 1.25-inch tall panel, he uses 37 words, which is what a very chatty newspaper strip might use in five or six such panels. He can do this because his drawing is precise, even with what I think is a new flourish of extending silly-straw indicators off of his multiple word balloons.. Jablonski also makes spare but effective use of design florishes like circles and in one case a kind of box kite that sits on the page.

If this were merely furious nonsense, it would still be worth looking at for how the artist uses the page and for what he emphasizes as a writer. But there's a lot to like in the language and the presentation. A lot of the stories are highly amusing; certain panels contain modest gems of back and forth gag-filled language. Here's one I scanned at random:


It's like watching improvisational sketch comedy by a really skilled Waiting for Godot cast. Additionally, the fact this is two panels of 30 on a single, magazine-sized page makes Cryptic Wit the all-time greatest value when it comes to reading density. There's more to pore over on one page than in the entire output of Marvel Comics for the month of July. I'm not sure I'll ever finish it, which for some reason I find comforting.