Rarely do we get a chance to take a break from the four color world of the funny pages to take a look at the single panel art form found in the pages of newspapers and magazines – and the occasional web comic. BOOM! Studios is broadening their horizons with a a new imprint, and a cartoon collection from award winning Shannon Wheeler.
For coffee fiends, the name Shannon Wheeler is just as familiar as a half-caf-mocha-latte. In comic circles, Wheeler is probably best known for Too Much Coffee Man, the story of the anxious Everyman who contemplates the state of the world through coffee colored glasses. For those who turn up their noses on comic books and the mere thought of superheroes, Wheeler is recognized as the single panel artist for the New Yorker Magazine. With hundreds of submissions turned in, there are going to be times when funny gags are rejected in favor of funnier gags. No one gets to see the rejected bits, which is where I Thought You Would Be Funnier comes in.
I Thought You Would Be Funnier is a collection of the “best-of-the-best of what’s left” from those submissions, bound in trade paperback form for your amusement. Wheelers subjects range from cats and dogs, to clowns and relationships – some of them with clowns, or lawyers, and believe me, you don’t want to wake up to find the lawyers have returned.
While we are used to reading books that have compressed time, decompressed time, 12-issue story arcs, or year long events, the single panel comic is something quite special; everything takes place in that one shot. We don’t need to know the backstory of the characters, wonder what is going to happen next, or ponder the meta meaning behind the words – it simply is. And that’s what makes reading Wheeler’s book so enjoyable, you get a complete story in one simple take.
I am usually not one to laugh out loud, I did find a number of these gags were able to elicit a chuckle and even more brought a smile to my face. Wheelers gags often border on the Larson side of humor, but most of the time the moments are simple puns or witty remarks made to a supposed questions to their target.
The art is well done, but it tends to look similar to other grayscale comics found in other magazines similar in nature to the New Yorker. It’s not a dig on Wheeler’s style, but rather a comment on editors who seek conformity rather than taking a chance on what the artist really could do if allowed to let loose.
At $19.99 and 100 pages of content, I Though You Would Be Funnier, is worth the time if you like this kind of storytelling and humor. It’s worth checking out, and earns 3.5 out of 5 Stars.