Stark Plug Book.com


By Chap (Rolling Tire Productions)
ISBN: 978-0-329-9759318-3-7 (PB)              eISBN: 978-0-329-9759318-2-0

One of my greatest joys is reading work by creators who clearly get off on the sheer joy of cartooning and that is definitely the case in this outrageously addictive tome offering “A Nice Alternative to Television”…

Obviously and enticingly inspired by the graphic absurdity of Gilbert Shelton and his Fabulous Furry partners Dave Sheridan and Paul Mavrides, Wisconsin-based printmaker and illustrator Steven C. Chappell has concocted a delicious dose of warmly witty strips combining keen observational humour and slapstick shenanigans with splendidly surreal visual hijinks and capers featuring life-battered wage-slave everyman Stark Plug.

The artist then generously gathered them all in a wonderfully engaging softcover album – mainly black and white, but with judiciously and mischievously applied spot and full-colour sections – and self-deprecatingly allowed the material to do its job… to the delight of anyone savvy enough to read it.

Following a handy pictorial introduction to ‘The Primary Cast of Characters’, all manner of wry and supremely engaging jollity commences with ‘Another Day… at the Job’ as overstretched screen-monkey Stark is informed by his bullying boss that he now has to do the work of three for the same wage and resoundingly assured yet again “no raise for you!”.

Inundated with tedious repetitive keyboard-tapping, Mr. Plug’s mind starts to wander into realms both bizarrely graphical and enticingly metaphysical…

Another day brings oversleeping, fresh anxiety and a mad dash through Madison’s snowbound streets – past local ambulatory busking landmark Bernie the Banjo Bum – and culminates in a close shave with icy death, before the tedious toil resumes. At least Stark can enjoy official breaks with co-worker Stacy whilst expounding on the joys of the “Fry It Diet”…

He may consume copiously and unhealthily, but our man keeps fit, as seen in the purely visual, rainbow-hued and wildly experimental peregrination ‘Stark Walks’, after which ‘Power Outage!’ sees office and city plunged into stygian gloom, giving the workers license to get a bit daring with their habits and clothing…

Whilst out with his dog Dioji, Stark’s mind is set to wandering after overhearing ‘Jump Rope Jabber with Those Crazy Kids!’ before taking in an extensive tour of life’s finer things during ‘A Day at the City Gallery’. After enjoying the colour-enhanced delights of an entrancing Wood Block Print Show he consequently descends into a ‘Mid-Life Crisis…’ which entails quitting his doleful, penurious job to become a cartoon character in newspaper strip Memphis and Harry, playing straight man to a weirdly-drawn cat…

When the strip is cancelled due to catnip-fuelled excess, it’s back to the terminal grind of his old job where the pressure can only be relieved by frenetic dancing in ‘Stark Raving Mad’

A much needed ‘Coffee Break’ leads to Stark learning more than he ever wanted to about Stacy and her friend Rita so he indulges himself by devising ‘The Most Hilarious Comic Strip Ever!’ – a potentially lethal stunt involving fake moustaches, male nudity, bicycles, flying, the dome of the Wisconsin State Capitol and an army of gun-happy cops – which can only be balanced by a moment of ‘Stark Meditation ’ before the madcap buffoonery concludes in mellow contemplative manner as Stark Plug and Dioji indulge in a gentle nocturnal ‘Moon Walk’

The entire experience is then topped off with quirky Ads for ‘Stark Plug Schwag’ (I got a cool bunch of stuff with my review copy – yay! – so I can thoroughly recommend this bit) bringing to a close the funniest book I’ve read this year… and it’s already March…
© 2017 Steven C. Chappell (Chap). All rights reserved.

For further information check out the book’s title, or if that’s too much work type this – starkplugbook.com – into a computer.