Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Stick To Drawing Comics Monkey Brain! -- Scott Adams-- Review

Stick to Drawing Comics Monkey Brain! Cartoonist Ignores Helpful Advice by Scott Adams is a collection of short essays or so it says on the front flap. It consists of some 150 entries. If you read the back cover, however, you notice that it says 98% of the material in this book comes from his blog http://dilbertblog.typepad.com/

This is rather interesting. I found the book in the new books section in the library under biography. It is kind of odd. I guess if you write a blog it counts as biography. Most of the material in this book is biographical in nature. Most entries are about a page to a page and a half long. There is a list of quotes in the back from some of the entries.

There is also a faq-- frequently asked question section about his cartoon, Dilbert. He answers questions about syndication and his work as a cartoonist. He describes how often he writes and what it is like working as a cartoonist. This is short, about four pages.

My favorite entries are about How the syndicated cartoon Dilbert is edited. You learn what is the acceptable way to use butts in newpaper cartoons, why it is better to use a donut instead of a gun when a policeman is firing bullets in a cartoon, and other things like the best way to depict a dolphin attack on a consultant.

There are numerous examples of the cartoon Dilbert throughout the book. Many of these are examples of cartoons that got rejected for inappropriate content then reedited so they fit the newspaper syndicates requirements.

I find the most interesting part of this book to be his interactions with people who read his work and give comments on it. There are numerous examples of how he deals with people who don't like some aspect of his work.

He also describes his process of finding what he thinks is funny. He apparently reads a lot of news and is a news junkie. He describes that he is looking for things that are not funny in and of themselves, but can be commented on in a funny way. This can be everything from the elections to religion.

The entries in the book are a lot more edgy than what appears in the newspaper. There is a lot more scatological humor, sexual innuendo, married life humor, and making fun of religion and politics in this book than in the cartoon. He does not spare any group of people. He is an equal opportunity cynic when it comes to religion and politics. The book is not censored.

He tells you what he doesn't like masseusses with giant hands, people singing in cars, electronic voting machines, and stupid people. Quite a bit of the humor is self-deprecating. He has trouble removing fluorescent light bulbs and can't seem to get using the dishwasher properly.

There is a lot which is not that funny to me. It is more experiential in places than funny. However, because it is not one narrative, but numerous small essays, it is easy to skip over the pieces which I didn't like and go right to the juicy parts. There were quite a few very funny moments in the book which made me laugh out loud.

Because this was originally a blog, it covers a huge variety of subjects. I think this is an interesting commercial experiment. If this is successful, we may see more books translated directly into blogs. Scott Adams says this is an experiment for him. He is trying something new in writing this book. If I had known it was from his blog, however, I might have read the blog first.

I think, however, it is a very different experience reading something from a computer screen than reading something from a book. You can carry around a book. You can hold it easily. You can read it in the subway. I'd be a little nervous opening a laptop in a subway car full of people. Books are much more of a tactile experience. They are also much easier on the eyes. There is no glare from a book, and generally, the dots per inch have a much higher resolution than on a computer screen.

I think reading this book may make me interested in reading a little bit more of Scott Adam's blog. I would read the blog first, then see if I liked the humor. It is clear that his style of humor in this book may not fit with everyone.


Michael said...

I heard Scott Adams deliver a keynote address at a conference years ago. He was a good speaker and an amazingly intelligent man. I gained a lot of respect for him then. He definitely has some keen and cuttingly sarcastic insights.

Book Calendar said...

That was what made this book fun to read. He describes how he got some of those insights.

I have never seen him up close.