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Cheap Laffs: The Art of the Novelty Item Hardcover – October 19, 2004


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 128 pages
  • Publisher: Harry N. Abrams; 1St Edition edition (October 19, 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0810955997
  • ISBN-13: 978-0810955998
  • Product Dimensions: 7.2 x 0.6 x 10.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,106,902 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

The creator of the Garbage Pail Kids turns his attention to the "once thriving, if marginal, industry devoted to the creation of a modest product of questionable quality, taste, originality and necessity for fleeting high-impact diversion"—in other words, the novelty item—in this suitably quirky and expertly designed catalogue. There’s the "Funny Dribble Glass," designed to leak its contents on unsuspecting drinkers in such a way as to convince them that the mess is their fault; the "Beatnik Beard," aimed at 1960s youngsters hoping to look like a friend of Kerouac (slogan: "Dig That Beard! Crazy Man!"); and the "Trick Smashed Finger," intended, naturally, to trick someone into thinking you’ve been terribly hurt. Classics (the hand buzzer; the fake dog poop) share space with others less familiar (a dishtowel emblazoned with morose slogans, possibly designed as a booby prize; a box labeled "Don’t be an alcoholic" containing a small pair of fake breasts along with the suggestion to "drink milk"). Additional information on the items’ dates, manufacturers, dimensions, directions and intended audience is carefully compiled, making this a delightful tour of the cheap and the weird.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

About the Author

Mark Newgarden, creator of the 1980s Garbage Pail Kids for the Topps Company, is a visual artist whose work has appeared in publications ranging from RAW to The New York Times Op-Ed page. He has conceived, scripted, and designed programming for Nickelodeon and the Cartoon Network. PictureBox, Inc., a visual content studio and publishing house composed of Peter Buchanan-Smith and Dan Nadel, produces the annual book of pictures and prose The Ganzfeld.

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Customer Reviews

3.8 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Eusebius TOP 1000 REVIEWER on September 12, 2013
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
If you are of a certain age you'll enjoy the nice pictures of some of the stuff you used buy at the corner variety store or drugstore or smoke shop. It will also have you searching around for that old Johnson & Smith catalog that you used to pore over page by page when you were 12 years old.

Probably the most prolific of the novelty makers mentioned in this book is S.S. Adams and the author visited the Adams company in New Jersey. They have a brief write-up about it but I wish they had taken a couple of pictures of the production lines - weirdly, they only have a few pictures of cardboard boxes

This is not a great book and it is very incomplete. It's fine for a little bit of nostalgia but really nothing more than that.
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5 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Paul Karasik on November 2, 2004
Format: Hardcover
Everything that the editorial material above says is true: this handsomely photographed and crisply designed book is packed with oddball novelties from the preeceeding century. What the above does not convey is that Cheap Laffs is also laugh (or should I say "laff") out loud funny.

Buy it.

Now.
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Format: Hardcover
My father got this for Christmas and I immediately stole it - it's got dry humor in the descriptions, cynical humor in the "Target Audience," and matchless unintentional comedy from the original ads and product imagery. It's a must-have for anyone interested in the corny heyday of gag props as well as the post-modern snarkiness and wit of excellent writing. Recommended for fans of: Chris Ware, Jon Stewart, Sockington.
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