The Red Monkey Double Happiness Book, by Joe Daly, 2009, Fantagraphics, 112 pages, $22.99
Most comics fall into one of two categories:
(1) Not trying to be funny, and succeeding at this goal. Think Ed Brubaker's Daredevil. That sucker has no time for funny.
(2) Trying to be funny, but failing. The flat "jokes" in certain issues of Amazing Spider-man, for instance, or anything written by Stan Lee.
A few comics are in another category:
(3) Not trying to be funny, but failing, leading to unintentionally hilarious results. Brad Meltzer's DC Universe: Last Will & Testament, or any of Jeph Loeb's recent oeuvre probably qualifies here.
Finally, it's the fairly rare comic that makes it into the elusive last category:
(4) Trying to be funny, and succeeding. It's just tough to pull off humor in comic books. Timing is important for comedy, and timing is a difficult thing to master when the reader is the one controlling how fast he or she reads the book. Plus, many people either just aren't funny or are unable to write funny.
The Red Monkey Double Happiness Book is a category 4. It's a funny comic book, and that should be enough to make you want to check it out.
I'll tell you a little more about it, though. This book contains two stories, both set in Cape Town, South Africa, and both starring a guy named Dave and featuring his buddy Paul. Dave and Paul are the kind of lovable pot-smoking losers that would turn up in your typical stoner movie. And both stories are about Dave and Paul getting in over their heads as they confront minor mysteries. (Although I should point out that the first story was not my favorite. Make sure to hold off on deciding whether you like the book at least until you get into the second, longer story.)
The whole thing has a nice laid-back vibe to it, as Dave and Paul wander into and out of adventures. It's kind of fun to just watch them drive around in Dave's sweet red convertible and look at the scenery. The art has a simple, clean look that retains enough detail to make the setting feel like a real place. And, as I said, it's pretty damn funny.
I liked this book and recommend it.
DID YOU KNOW? Daly's 2006 comic book collection, Scrublands, was nominated for the 2007 Eisner Award for Best New Graphic Album.
READ MORE: Here is a ten-page excerpt. And here's Matt Groening buying the book at the 2009 San Diego Comic-Con.
BUY IT: This book will be published on October 20, 2009. You can order it from Fantagraphics or from Amazon here: The Red Monkey Double Happiness Book
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