I’ve been meaning to write about cartoonist/animation artist Mark Newgarden’s new book WE ALL DIE ALONE (Fantagraphics), a beautifully designed, laugh-packed anthology of his career-to-date that collects his print cartoons from the 1980s and ’90s among many other things. Yesterday’s NEW YORK TIMES published a piece on Mark’s book that serves as a solid introduction to what makes his work so unique:
“Why isn’t humor funny?” was a working title for “We All Die Alone,” Mr. Newgarden said. “That’s what a lot of the work is exploring.” He recalled the desolate world of stand-up comedians he has known. “I have a friend who’s a very physical comedian, and his life has been about literally hurting himself onstage in order to get laughs,” he said. “He embodies that desperation, that willingness to do anything because, somehow, he has convinced himself that this is his purpose in life: to make people laugh.”
In his interview with Mr. Nadel, Mr. Newgarden provides an oblique explanation, in the form of a childhood reminiscence, of the roots of his obsession. He recalls watching the Three Stooges on television, laughing uproariously at their “magnificent abuse,” when his grandfather would barrel into the room and rant: “How can you laugh? Those men are dead! Those men are dead!”
“That made it all much funnier,” he says.