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Lassie! Get Help!! offers bizarre, with little humor


By Danny Shanahan.

Pantheon Books, 96 pp., $8.95.


HUMOR IS A FUNNY THING -- people's taste for what they find funny varies as much with age and culture as it does with an immeasurable amount of personal preference. With an apology for my own bias, I express my disappointment in Danny Shanahan's Lassie! Get Help!!

The book is a series of one-drawing jokes with captions, in a style similar to The Far Side but not quite as funny. The author is probably best known for his contributions to The New Yorker. This may imply that the humor is directed at an older audience, but regardless, a comic-book should be funny, and this is not.

I found a few cartoons to be bizarre in a comical way, but for the most part, I was not amused. The rest of the comics seemed either just stupid, or strange to the point of being incomprehensible. The comic twists lacked a biting edge.

The drawings were of situations that were creative, but that did not make them funny, just weird. One of the cartoons depicts an old woman knitting, tipped over in a boxing ring, with a heavyweight boxer who looks as though he has just hit her. The caption reads: "Whistler's Mother at Sharky's." I understand the humor that was intended, but it failed.

The artistry is about as good as any comic artistry; it is clear and well drawn, but it is nothing special. The material is rather quick reading: It takes on the order of 20 minutes to read, which, at $8.95, makes it a rather expensive book per minute. If your intention when you purchase a comic book is to laugh, then I advise against purchasing Lassie! Get Help!!.