Thursday, September 16, 2021

Andy Richardson:

Addicted to Comics


Mister I + Mister O

Mister I

Genre: Comedy, Anthropomorphic

Remember those flip books where there were minimal changes from page to page, but when you flipped through them quickly the characters would appear to run, jump, or ride a bike? In this collection of strips, each page is divided up into dozens of tiny square panels, on which Mister I— a hotdog-shaped character—engages in some simple activity that routinely results in his grisly death. Mister I tries to get a pie from a window, or climb a tree, or go fishing, but they all end up in virtually the same way 60 panels later.

Perhaps better comparisons for these Lewis Trondheim strips in an oversized, hardbound format are the old Warner Brothers coyote and roadrunner cartoons, in which Wile E. Coyote met his fate again and again, without ever catching his prey. These episodes are a lot bloodier, but the dark humor is the same.

Mister O

Genre: Comedy, Anthropomorphic

How many different ways can a guy fall off a cliff? The answer appears to be as many as Lewis Trondheim can dream up, because that’s what happens in virtually all of these 60-panel strips on each page of this book. A circular fellow named Mister O tries to get from the edge of one rocky cliff to another, using ropes, birds, and other objects as the mechanism to do it. His efforts, needless to say, are destined to fail—they have to, or he wouldn’t have to try a new one in the very next strip.

Reviewers of Trondheim’s creative efforts have drawn comparisons to the coyote and roadrunner cartoons and also Charlie Brown’s attempts to kick a football, and both are apt. Like Mister O, those endeavors speak of both futility and the indomitable human spirit, which continues to get up and try again, no matter how often it falls short.

Andy Richardson is a freelance writer and editor who has been reading and writing about comics for far longer than he can believe at this point. Andy can be reached via e-mail at richardsonag@earthlink.net. Please use “ComicBase” as your subject line.

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