Larkin, Joseph Patrick – Arcade of Cruelty



Arcade of Cruelty

There are times when it’s better NOT to go to a website to learn more about a person before writing a review.  This book came out of nowhere, I enjoyed sizable chunks of it, so I wanted to know more about Joseph.  The front page of his website is an absolutely brutal e-mail from an ex, with links on some of the more brutal things she said leading to parts of his website.  Pretty clever, actually, but man, if even half of the things she wrote were true… oof.  Of course, the whole thing could just be a joke, leaving me the biggest sucker in the world, which wouldn’t be the first time.  So how about that book?  It’s a career retrospective to somebody I’ve never heard of which, granted, doesn’t mean all that much, but it’s possible that a career retrospective should wait until somebody is older than 30.  Things start off with grade school doodles from Joseph, mostly with the level of humor you would expect from somebody in their early grade school years.  Mildly ausing for a awhile, but it definitely goes on a bit too long.  Following these are a series of monotypes, and the reason for their inclusion frankly baffles me, as they’re mostly just different kinds of white smudges and indistinct drawings on a black backgroud.  Probably just betraying my lack  of artistic appreciation, but I can live with that.  Luckily things pick up quite a bit once he gets to the actual comic strips.  Plenty of cruelty on display here (as the title might suggest), dealing with such subjects as his troubles with women, thoughts on various cartoonists (and seriously, lay off Jeff Brown.  Fat jokes are the cheapest humor in the world), and his fatalistic thoughts on life in general.  Following all this is a section titled “Excerpts from Joseph Patrick Larkin’s Beat-Off Binders”, which is exactly what it sounds like: samples of his collages of various women, some creepier than others, saved at the last minute by an ad that wasn’t in his binders at all, or at least I hope it wasn’t.  More sketchbook stuff next (although most of it looks good enough to have been published to me), the comics from his aborted project about how funny rape is, all wrapped up with a whole bunch of comics about 9/11 and various reactions. Just about every page of this book has comments from Joseph, so we at least get a clear sense of his thought process.  Granted, sometimes it’s informative and sometimes it isn’t at all, but the book would be extremely hard to follow without them.  Reading back over this, this review is coming off more harshly than I’d intended.  Most of his 9/11 stuff is really funny (thanks Republicans for milking that day dry for political purposes), good chunks of the comics and sketchbooks are hilarious, and it’s hard not to like a guy who’s this painfully honest, even if he is painfully honest about being a hopeless loser.  It’s worth checking out, even if chunks of it could have been taken out without losing a thing.  $18


Posted on April 28, 2010, in Reviews and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink. Comments Off on Larkin, Joseph Patrick – Arcade of Cruelty.

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