A Sophisticated Diversion for the Intellectually-Inclined

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A Sophisticated Diversion for the Intellectually-Inclined

Postby Kardiac » 26 Jun 2008 14:03

I was fortunate enough to acquire and advance copy of David Malki's latest Wondermark collection Beards of Our Forefathers, available next week from Dark Horse Comics. Without a doubt, it is one of the most satisfying collections of web-based comics that I have ever purchased.

If you've never read the webcomic, you should definitely give it a look. David collects Victorian-style illustrations, scans them, and manipulates them to create the characters and settings for a unique flavor of humor that will bring a smile to your lips and, quite often, a guffaw to your belly. Ranging from sophisticated allusions to cheap sight gags, David has a gift for finding the humor and often the bizarre and presenting it in a visually-intriguing fashion.

And this latest book is no exception. Beards opens with a guide for the beard-watcher, including a carry-along checklist, and dives right into the funny. Leave no line of this book unread -- even those of you who normally skip introductions (and you know who you are!). The selection of strips hails from among his best, and the commentary he delivers on many of the pages adds a new dimension of hilarity to any already enjoyable experience.

If you find elephants on unicycles crashing through windows and disturbing little girls who are trying to read entertaining, and who among us doesn't, this book is definitely for you.

The comics are presented two to a page on strong, glossy paper with a parchment effect, bound in hardcover, and beautifully displayed. While there are single-comic pages interspersed within the book, they are complemented by the aforementioned commentary and only serve to enhance the book rather than give the impression of padding its content. And compared to similar collections, the $14.95 price ($10.17 on Amazon) is a bargain.

If I have one nitpick, it's the length of the volume. Admittedly, I would have liked about 20 more pages, but then I'm also a fan of the strip and would have loved to have seen more. However, I also recognize that such decisions also have a tendency to increase the price of the book. As a Wondermark primer, the book more than serves as-is.

I'll also take a moment to point out that the strip's humor may not appeal to everyone. Despite my continuous lauding of the laughers, not everyone will grasp the oddly-Victorian sensibilities of some strips (even in moments of very modern humor). David's writing can appear highbrow even in the most lowbrow of moments, and can take a little getting used to. Personally, though, I think that such touches only enhance the strips charisma.

In closing, I highly recommend this book for both long-time Wondermark fans and the newly initiated. The humor is unapologetic, the visual interpretations eye-catching, and the extras thoroughly entertaining. I give Beards of Our Forefathers a solid 5 handlebar moustaches out of a possible five, with a possible .5 margin of error for the unwashed and unsophisticated masses.
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