BREW pal, New York cartoonist/animator Mark Newgarden, has written a new book which I’m very much looking forward to picking up when it’s released later this month – CHEAP LAFFS: THE ART OF THE NOVELTY ITEM. PUBLISHER’S WEEKLY says that in the book, Newgarden “turns his attention to the ‘once thriving, if marginal, industry devoted to the creation of a modest product of questionable quality, taste, originality and necessity for fleeting high-impact diversion’ – in other words, the novelty item – in this suitably quirky and expertly designed catalogue.” The Funny Dribble Glass, Trick Smashed Finger, Beatnik Beard, hand buzzer and fake dog poop are all finally given their due in CHEAP LAFFS. The book is designed by PictureBox, a snazzy design firm run by Dan Nadel and Peter Buchanan-Smith. I’ve been lobbying Chronicle to let these guys design my next book, though it remains to be seen whether this will actually happen.
I’ve said this before but one of my favorite book illustrators today is Lane Smith. He always graciously sends me a copy of his new books and they are, without fail, aesthetic delights. In his latest effort, SCIENCE VERSE, he teams up with frequent writing partner Jon Scieszka, to create a book that painlessly introduces kids to the poetic stylings of Poe, Carroll, Longfellow and others. The highlight for me is obviously Lane’s exquisite illustrations which combine an uninhibited fine art sensibility with playfully wry humor. This begs the question, Do children who enthusiastically watch cartoons like FAIRLY ODDPARENTS deserve such beautiful artwork? Frequent exposure to Lane’s work will perhaps instill some sense of visual taste into today’s youngsters.