*Starred Review* Every so often, lightning strikes--and nails Fred the Clown right in the tokhes
. Such is the essence of New Zealand-born London cartoonist Langridge's sublimely feckless creation that it's a wonder a bolt ever strikes elsewhere. And such is the comics-steeped virtuosity of Langridge's art--which, while most indebted to Max Fleisher's animated cartoons (e.g., Betty Boop), embraces spot-on parodies of comic strips (Peanuts
, etc.), underground cartoonists (Crumb, Deitch), and picture-book artists (Seuss, Gorey)--that the lightning of gratified recognition (this guy's one of us!) must repeatedly strike deep-dyed comics lovers while perusing Fred's adventures. Meanwhile, Langridge's verbal skills convulse us, for he is a sick jokester of the very first water. In this compendium organized in chapters corresponding to "Fred the Clown's Ten Steps to Happiness" (which, needless to say, don't ever get him there), the two prose-heavy ones--a history of Fred's two comic strips ("Know Your Roots") and a mock newspaper ("Value the Written Word")--may be the most side-splitting burlesques of comics history and historiography ever. In the other eight chapters, in which the only words are narrative or in print within the panels, Langridge's art is as funny as his writing and also, despite the pretense that Fred merits no sympathy, touching. Ray OlsonCopyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved
About the Author
hails from New Zealand but now lives in London with his wife and daughter.