Today at the Comics Journal, we're sharing R.C. Harvey's obituary of cartoonist Tom K. Ryan, who passed away earlier this month. It's an extensive, well researched look at a very long career.
The humor in the strips of this new tradition— Peanuts, B.C., The Wizard of Id, Tumbleweeds, Animal Crackers, to name a few— is more sophisticated because it depends on our recognizing something that is only implicit in the strip. We laugh at B.C. because we are shown childlike men, men just beginning to be men, trying out civilization, and we see what they do not: that, like a suit that's too large, civilization doesn't quite fit.
We laugh at Tumbleweeds much of the time because we recognize that the real Old West was quite different from the West that tiny Tumbleweeds tries to reenact whenever moved to action. If we didn't know that trains run on round wheels along smooth rails, Thor's choo-choo in B.C. wouldn't appear funny to us at all. If we didn't know that most cowboys' horses don't jump wide canyons in a single bound, Tumbleweeds' dashed hopes would be tragic instead of comic. But we do know these things, and upon that knowledge the humor of these strips is built.
Today's review comes to us from Leonard Pierce, who is taking a look at Proxima Centauri, by Farel Dalrymple. He's into it.
It’s not all that necessary, or even useful, to dwell on Proxima Centauri’s plot; just knowing the bare-bones elements will suffice. Not that there aren’t many unexpected pleasures to be had in the story; Dalrymple lays out seemingly random bits and pieces of narrative that often come together in unexpected ways, forging the kind of connections that make you gasp in the way that only a really good high can. (I won’t speculate as to the creator’s habits, but this is a book that’s psychedelic in the best and truest way; its incredible imaginative elements burble up in unpredictable ways and then link together in a manner that seems almost inevitable.) It’s just that the real golden ticket here is the way he takes so many different genre elements and threads them together with his astonishing art as the common factor.
Take the full hour for the video below.