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Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Should You Be Laughing At This? Hugleikur Dagsson (Writer & Artist). Michael Joseph (2006)

A collection of  brutal cartoons that are shocking and very funny, this is comedy without humour. Each carton is a confrontation for the reader, a single fierce idea presented with the minimum context required to sell it and set up to jolt a laugh before the reader can stop themselves.
The ideas themselves are deliberately provoking, they read like the statements a child would make to an adult to get a reaction. They are not serious decelerations, they are carefully formulated to shock and push the boundaries of the acceptable. In and of themselves they are not funny, they are not really anything in fact. Just a string of unrelated ideas that are unattached to anything and would be rapidly become just noise by themselves.
The art is slightly developed stick figure work, there is not attempt at any real detail or form. There is just enough shape to give the reader enough clues to identify what is required.
When Hugleikur Dagsson combines the two very unpromising elements he creates a very sophisticated and  thoughtful comedy. The art provides a context that just tips the words over from being empty talk to having some concrete impact, they are now part of an action or a situation. The idea now has some impact, it can be seen in action and sounds, they gain a voice. In this way they are read very differently, they are heard as much as read and get straight to readers bump of comedy. This is the part of the brain that find the unexpected and the normally unspeakable funny, shocking but funny too.
Achieving this balance where the art and the words support each other without distracting from either is a stunning talent, the simplicity of the art rests exactly against the extremity of the ideas and removes the dangerous violence that could easily be there. These become comedy rather than unreadable smears of bile, in answer to the reasonable question of the title, yes you should,out loud.

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