Robot 6

Quote of the Day | Funny books should be funny

Matilda

When a book doesn’t have any humor in it, it doesn’t ring true to me. It’s a reason I read little sci-fi for a long while, because it seemed in an effort to be taken seriously, authors eschewed humor. Or maybe most simply weren’t funny, it’s hard to say. It’s something that has plagued comic books in recent decades too. I think it’s been improving though.

-Jeff Parker, agreeing with Roald Dahl’s assessment (via Matilda) that not having any funny bits in your book is a failing. Fortunately, we have folks like Parker (and Brian Clevinger and Paul Tobin and several others) who are working hard to put the funny back into funny books.

Who’s your favorite “funny comics” writer?

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Bobby & Peter Timony of Night Owls
Paul Tobin
& Nate Cosby

Peter David’s the best but Christos Gage is pretty great.

Peter David, Jeff Smith, Dan Slott, Peter Bagge, Dave Sim (pre-186), Warren Ellis, Thom Zahler…for a start.

Evan Dorkin, created Milk & Cheese and wrote World’s Funnest.
I hear Alan Moore can wrote some funny when he was starting.

Brian Clevinger, easily. Though if Gregg Taylor of Decoder Ring Theatre decided to write comics, he’d give Clevinger a run for his money.

I’ve seen some good recommendations so far. How’bout Roger Langridge?

And hell, seeing as he generally does double-duty, why limit it to writers? Funny drawings are every bit as important as funny writing.

More writers: Paul Dini, Paul Cornell, John Layman, Mark Evanier

More artists: Amanda Conner, Rob Guillory

More writer/artists: Los Bros Hernandez, Sergio Aragones, Jim Woodring, Mike Mignola, Evan Dorkin, Darwyn Cooke

And that’s just a few off the top of my head, whose work I’ve bought recently. Do we want to get into the classics? Kurtzman, Wood, Stanley…hell, I think it’s fair to call Groening and Barry “classic” at this point (though it might make them feel old).

Anyone who doesn’t answer Michael Kupperman needs to look at themselves, and also look at their choices.

No one has mentioned Sergio Aragones? Seriously? First person I thought of. Anyone who likes good comics owes it to themselves to check out the ongoing series “Sertgo Aragones’ Funnies.”
There’s a whole host of creators who work on the various Simpsons comic series that do great work, as well.

No one’s mentioned Mark Waid? Impulse is one of the defining humorous super-hero comics of the modern age.

Also…Busiek, Morrison, Gail Simone, BKV, Fraction, Gage.

Even writers who are not know for being funny can do it often to be worthy of note. Geoff Johns is often close to humorless as a writer, but he was part of the very funny Booster Gold comic and gave us Larfleeze. I don’t usually find Bendis to be very funny, but he gave Peter Parker the perfect sense of humor in Ult-Spidey.

Of all the comics writers I am big on now, the only one who doesn’t seem to have much of a sense of humor is Scott Snyder. I hope that once he dispatches the Court of Owls, there will be time for that.

Keith Knight has been known to tell a joke or two as well.

And no-shit: Brandon Graham. Everybody knows that and you all omitted him for being the obvious selection. RIGHT?

With all of the writing books out there, I haven’t seen much in the way of how to write humor. Anyone have suggestions for resources on humor writing? I have one book, The Comic Toolbox that is excellent, but I would love to have more.

Jake Earlewine

March 19, 2012 at 1:24 pm

Did you ever read “I Saw It” about the atomic bomb dropping on Hiroshima? Stunning “comic book”, but nothing funny about it. Ever read Jack Jackson’s graphic novels about the plight of the American “Indian”? Tragic, but wonderful storytelling. Nothing funny about it. How about “Our Cancer Year” by Harvey Pekar? Somehow I didn’t get one chuckle. But it was amazing.

Jeff Parker must not have read many good books. He certainly hasn’t read much good science fiction, to make such a statement. Because literature — even comics literature — can be artistic, entertaining, educational, and life-affirming. Without the use of humor.

^^^^ this guy needs to lighten up.

Jake Earlewine

March 20, 2012 at 6:52 am

Darryl, I’m quite “lightened up”, thank you. In fact, I’ve been made my living as a yoga teacher for 21 years, so I’m a pretty peaceful guy.

But somebody needed to speak up. The title of this column, “Funny books should be funny,” is absolutedly wrong. And Jeff Parker’s statement that “When a book doesn’t have any humor in it, it doesn’t ring true…” is painfully ignorant. Someone needed to speak the truth about those erroneous statements. And I didn’t see you doing it.

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