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Thursday, April 22, 2010

Dapper Caps & Pedal-Copters. A Wondermark collection. David Malki !. Dark Horse Books. (2010)

This is a collection of strips from the very funny and inventive Wondermark web comic. The Wondermark strips are usually collages of Victorian and Edwardian images, prints and photographs, with dialogue inserted. What could easily become stale or repetitive is kept fresh and funny by David Malki's sharp and absurd sense of humour. The strip reproduced on the back of the volume where a bear and a man in an old fashioned diving suit have an altercation is a prime example. The straight faced set up and execution allows the biting humour to shine through and the sheer cleverness of the the item is a major bonus. The rest of the strips in the collection maintain this high standard. David Malki updates the strip twice a week and maintains an impressively consistent level of inventiveness and wit.
One of the abundant pleasure of this book is the way that David Malki has taken advantage of the fact that it is a physical book. It is considerably more than a straight collection of the strips, they are presented in a superbly designed format that is packed with additional content. The tone of the extras, there are adverts, extra text items which pick up on and expand on some of the strips, and a stunning item that runs on the foot of each page, the book needs to be turned upside down to read it, is cleverly consistent with the images.
The book has the same grasp of the myriad possibilities of a physical item designed to be read as the web comic does for an item intended to be read on a screen. This thoughtfulness about the format and how the reader will interact with it is wonderful. David Malki's generous vision of the work in each medium, backed up by his razor sharp design skills and extraordinary creativity make this collection and the web versions outstanding pieces of work. A brilliant comic in a beautiful book.

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