The webcomics blog about webcomics

Fleen Book Corner: Not A Review

So here’s the deal: the new Goats book, Infinite Typewriters is available everywhere today. If you ordered a copy, it ships today. If Random House were kind enough to send you an advanced copy (as they were with me), you’ve had it in your hands for a few weeks now. And if you’re cheap, you can read the whole damn thing online starting about here. Simple process, right? Book, read, review, post.

But it’s not. Goats wasn’t the first webcomic I read, but it was pretty early on. It was the first webcomic that lead to me being involved in the medium and with the creators as I am. Many are the beers that I have had with Jon Rosenberg, many are the times that inadvertant physical contact has sent him recoiling in horror, and it is a factual matter that I sold him my soul about four years back (I got a dollar for it!). It’s in large part because of Jon’s prodding that Fleen exists today. There are gags in the book that spring more or less directly from conversations that I took part in. Hell, it’s pseduo-canonical that I’m a character in the strip, and Jon and I even share a birthday. Objectivity is not possible in these circumstances.

Which is a shame, really, because I love this book and want to be able to tell you objectively why you should buy it. But I can’t, so take everything with the requisite open-pit mine full of salt.

Faced with the very messy task of disposing of (depending how you want to count) either six and a half years (pre-reboot) or one and a half years (post reboot) of continuity, what took me 800 words to summarize Jon neatly pulled together in 8 pages (which I guess means the whole pictures/words things is off by a fact of ten). Faced with a jumping-on point to the story that was originally in black and white, he went back and recolored. Staring a rights-clearance issue in the face, he dug deep into his show tunes loving heart and rewrote lyrics and made them funnier. Realizing that every scene is better with Steven Cloud in it, he was added (Soviet historical photo style) where previously he had not been.

I’m saying that Jon Rosenberg is flexible. If it serves the joke, he’ll follow any slender thread of potential as far as it can possibly go, past the ridiculous, beyond the absurd, to the batshit insane.

And damn him, it all works. If you’ve grown up in a certain timeframe, if you voraciously consume science fiction and fantasy stories, and if you find yourself simultaneously engrossed within and repulsed by the conventions of those stories, this book may as well be the sacred tome of your tribe. If you’re not of that particular flavor of industrial-world 21st century geek, you can still marvel at the audacity of taking what had been a stellar example (and perhaps was the progenitor) of the two-guys-sitting-on-a-couch school of webcomics, and turning it into a dimension-spanning epic with all of reality at stake, and still making it funny.

Yet, somehow, Jon’s the same loveable, squisy-hearted guy he’s always been (for certain values of ‘loveable’). Regardless, he’s given us a tremendous story that’s still careening wildly out of control, and now I get to read a sustained high point again and again even when my mousing hand’s wrist-hurt disease is flaring up. And if that ain’t a great way to blow a Tuesday afternoon, I don’t know what is.

[…] Fleen, Gary Tyrrell, has an appreciation (not a review) of Infinite Typewriters, the print version of […]

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