By Jim Benton (NBM)
Although in something of a decline these days, for nearly 200 years gag-panels and cartoon strips were the universal medium to disseminate wit, satire, mirth, criticism and cultural exchange. Sadly, after centuries of pre-eminence, these days the cartoon has been all but erased from printed newspapers – as indeed the physical publications themselves have dwindled in shops and on shelves.
However, thanks to the same internet which is killing print media, many graphic gagsters and drawing dramatists have enjoyed resurgence in an arena that doesn’t begrudge the space necessary to deliver a cartoon in all its fulsome glory…
Mainstream cartooning remains an unmissable daily joy to a vast, frequently global readership whose requirements are quite different from those of hard-core, dedicated comic fans, or even that ever-growing base of intrigued browsers just starting to dip their toes in the sequential narrative pool.
Even those stuck-up holdouts who have pointedly “never read a comic” have certainly enjoyed strips or panels: a golden bounty of brief amusement demanding no commitment other than a moment’s close attention. Truth be told, it’s probably in our genes…
And because that’s the contrary nature of things, those gags now get collected in spiffy collections like this one (and also in e-book editions) to enjoy over and over again…
With that in mind, here’s a long-delayed peek at some less well known strips by one of America’s most innovative and mordantly surreal creative stars.
Jim Benton began his illustration work making up crazy characters in a T-Shirt shop and designing greetings cards. Born in 1960, he’d grown up in Birmingham, Michigan before studying Fine Arts at Western Michigan University.
Now earning a living by exercising his creativity he started self-promoting the weird funny things he’d dream up and soon was coining beaucoup bucks from properties such as Dear Dumb Diary, Dog of Glee, Franny K. Stein, Just Jimmy, Just Plain Mean, Sweetypuss, The Misters, Meany Doodles, Vampy Doodles, Kissy Doodles, jOkObo and It’s Happy Bunny in a variety of magazines and other venues…
The particular gags, jests and japes began life on Reddit and are delivered in a huge variety of styles and manners: each perfectly in accord with whatever sick, sweet, clever, sentimental, whimsical or just plain strange content each idea demanded.
Despite the risk of laughing yourself sick, you’ll want to see how some dads treat their kids; learn how deer see the hunters; explore the wonder of breasts; observe the lighter side of inebriation, seduction and mate-selection and much more.
You might discover Not-Facts that will change your life after gleaning Benton’s take on aliens, zombies, ghosts, assorted movie franchises, busking, business fashions and evolution in single page giggle-bombs ranging from strident solo panels to extended strips; silent shockers to poetically florid and verbose tracts.
You will laugh out loud and want more.
You will also want to send “How to explain things to the stupid” to all your friends.
Just make them buy their own copy of this glorious book.
© 2014 Jim Benton.