Poorly Drawn Lines (a book review)

Poorly Drawn Lines
Poorly drawn or perfectly expressive?

I’m not sure it’s fair to classify this as a book review. Poorly Drawn Lines is really a web comic that became so good that its midichlorian count flew off the charts and it became self-aware, resulting in the spontaneous conception of a physical publication that manifested itself in my local Barnes and Noble.

Whether or not this collection of comics turns to the Dark Side or not remains to be seen.

The official title of this book is, “Poorly Drawn Lines: Good Ideas and Amazing Stories.” The unofficial title should be “So funny that it really ticks off certain other writers (who shall remain nameless) who have spent their whole lives hoping be this funny.” And there’s even an endorsement by Wil Wheaton on the back cover, so you know it’s good. Make it so!

The author of Poorly Drawn Lines is Reza Farazmand, who describes himself as a guy from San Francisco who started this as a hobby in college and then the internet said, “Welcome aboard,” and now here he is. That’s what happens when you have talent. Reza Farazmand is uncommonly clever, and he’s picked the perfect medium for his perspective of the world we live in.

I’m a big fan of good old fashioned Sunday comic strips, having grown up on Calvin and Hobbes, The Far Side, and Get Fuzzy. You could argue that this comic holds a place between The Far Side, Monty Python, and late night comedy. But Poorly Drawn Lines is its own thing. It defies any category and, as a web comic, it has the freedom to be adult and does so without being crude.

That’s what I like about this comic. It does what it wants. There are worms that come out after it rains to party and they want to know who brought the Rumchata. There are bees with guns, animals in space, aliens who give the middle finger, occasional social commentary that never comes off as preachy, off-the-wall humor, and interludes of humorous prose. Sometimes it gets weird, but it never ceases to elicit a laugh. The author isn’t afraid to experiment and just throw an idea out there. It feels fresh and original.

Okay, so praise praise praise praise praise. Is there anything I don’t like about this?

Well, the book itself is this small, squarish thing. It took a little while to locate it at the bookstore. The drawings that look so good on the internet, didn’t translate quite as well to the printed page. The color seems a little flat and the lines a little jagged. I don’t know what program the author uses to create these and post them online, but the online presentation has a a little extra pop. It’s not as bad as I’m making it out, but I have to admit that I wanted a big, bold presentation. I’m sure the printing costs would have been stupid, though, so maybe you should ignore this whole paragraph and go back to the praise praise praise praise praise…

If you are in the holiday spirit and you’re looking for that last stocking stuffer, this is it.

If you woke up this morning and you thought, “Where can I see a gun battle between a bear, a cat, and a bee?” this is for you.

If you’re wife sent you to the store to pick up some garbanzo beans, knowing full-well how you feel about garbanzo beans, and you took a detour to the bookstore and picked this up and now you’re not sure how to explain to her what took so long or why you forgot the garbanzo beans, you made the right choice.

If the first thing you do in the morning is tune in to CNBC’s pre-market coverage, you should probably just move along.

Everyone else: enjoy.

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