Stranger Than Life: Cartoons and Comics 1970-2013
by M.K. Brown
Published March 19th, 2014 by Fantagraphics
Paperback, 248 pages
M.K. Brown is one of the funniest cartoonists of the last four decades — or ever, take your pick — and her body of work has long been savored by aficionados but never comprehensively collected — until now. Stranger Than Life is the first retrospective of Brown’s cartoons and comics from their original appearances in the National Lampoon, Mother Jones, The New Yorker, Playboy, and other magazines and underground comics.
M.K. Brown’s comics stories satirize suburban anxiety and post-modern ennui by the sheer force of her gentle but piquant, off-kilter observations, along with her slightly pixilated but winsome characters, all of which are perfectly captured in her restless pen line and delicate jewel-tone watercolors.
In these pages: Read instructions for the use of glue, making a pair of pants, home auto repair, coping with chainsaw massacres, and jackknifing your big rig. “Another True-Life Pretty Face in the Field of Medicine” introduces Virginia Spears Ngodátu, who (with a bit of a name change) would go on to star in “Dr. Janice N!Godatu,” Brown’s series of animated shorts that appeared on The Tracy Ullman Show alongside the first incarnation of The Simpsons. Plus, enjoy aliens, old people, pilgrims, mermen, monitor lizards, tiny floating muggers and other weirdos in Brown’s side-splitting single-panel gag strips.
This is a new type of review for me, so the question is how do you review comics? I am not sure, but I will do my best please feel free to leave your opinions so I can improve. I grew up reading the Sunday comics throughout the week they lived in the bathroom until the next week's Sunday paper arrived. I read them all, even if I did not like them though none of them were as off the wall compared to what is in this book. How did I go my whole life so far without having experienced M.K. Brown's work I kept thinking as I was reading through Stranger Than Life. This book has something for everyone, it is chocked full of hilarious satire which was my favorite part, a five-part western romance, and some of the comics are in color, though for me the colored ones are the creepiest with distorted faces and beings of unknown origins, just not my thing. Whereas, most things in life change as time goes by, not M.K. Brown's original style it stayed consistent throughout the decades. Occasionally, I bet you are looking for a reason to laugh your ass off I would definitely recommend this collection of cartoons and comics.
(See what I am saying about the freaky faces)
M.K. Brown grew up in Darien, Connecticut and New Brunswick, Canada. Her cartoons have been in all sorts of publications, above- and under-ground. She is naturally a bit selfish, maybe a little self-conscious, and self-centered, yet has an enlightened self-interest and a healthy curiosity about any new technology which happens to coincide with her trajectory at the time. She lives in northern California and her cartoons are about that process.