Monday, July 6, 2009

Ben's Indy Odyssey: Further Grickle

I liked this Rickey Recommendation (TM) from the very first page, where a guy agonizes over not having said something witty enough at a dinner party to the point where his stomach is hurting and he can't sleep (his next step is to build a time machine and keep going back to try come up with a more clever interjection). I'm not sure if this collection of Graham Annable's short and slightly longer stories had a formal theme when he put it together, but I found most of them to have the common thread of dealing with insecuirty and the ensuing awkwardness that can ensue, something I can both relate to and am pleasantly surprised that I can be entertained by.

The book is essentially two parts: a series of unrelated (except tangentially in one case) strips of varying length make up the first half while one longer story takes up the back. As always with stuff like this, my enjoyment peaked a vallied (verb? maybe?) from segment to segment, but I must say I was entertained and chuckling a lot more than I wasn't.

My favorite stuff from the front half was the aforementioned time travel dinner party bit (it has a great ending) and another short about two friends hitching a ride to a party with a third guy who is a bit socially awkward and who one of them can't stand; it's an extremely mundane type of experience that even when it takes an unexpeced turn doesn't veer far outside the realm of everyday occurence and yet I was riveted for reasons I can't fully articulate; I'm going to just chalk that up to solid craftsmanship and call it a day.

There was a slightly more unorthodox story about a guy going to see a doctor for a bad cough and the doctor's bizarre approach to helping him which I also really liked. The visual gags didn't do so much for me, but the relatable stuff like just having to wait in a doctor's office really grabbed me; I guess Annable just has a real gift for storytelling when it comes to the commonplace where he so accurately depicts experiences I've had that seeing these bizarrely-rendered cartoon characters go through them is just neat. I had a cold this weekend and the visual of this poor guy just exploding--vibration lines and sound effects flying off him while his stick figure composition breaks down--every three panels is so spot-on how I felt represented in cartoon form that it gave me pause for a sec.

Some of the shorter, less sequential stuff didn't do much for me, but hey, it was short. I alo have to give a lot of credit to Annable for doing a story about farts that I actually kinda dug. Toilet humor is one of the least funny things in the world to me for whatever reason (yeah, I know, I suck), but he has this honestly heartwarming little strip about an old guy telling some kids where farts came from that made me smile; given my stuck-up tastes, that's about as high a compliment as I can give.

The longer story that makes up the book's second half is pretty good on its own merits, but I didn't get as into it because it seemed more standard fare as far as what I've read from indy books. Basically it's a day (or half day) in the life of a guy who is out of work and having trouble adjusting to living with his girlfriend and how he deals with his neuroses. There is some stuff with his dog and the old lady next door's pet wombat that held my attention and I'm sure there is more going on beneath the surface that I'm not digging into, but I couldn't shake the feeling of "been there, done that." It's a solid story, but it didn't jump out at me the way the stuff I described above did.

Given that the title of this book is Further Grickle, I'm sure there is a Grickle out there somewhere (I also know this because Rickey told me already) and I'm anxious to read that and to see what similarities and differences there are between the two volumes. I'm always intrigued when I like something and can kinda tell why but not quite nail it down, so I'm looking forward to reading more by Graham Annable and trying to figure out what in his work appeals to me so much; even if I don't figure it out, I'll still get to read some more good stuff, y'know? Slam dunk.

I already linked it earlier, but here is a link to Graham Annable's blog, where I presume you could purchase this book and other work by him, were you so motivated.

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