Scottish cartoonist Tom Gauld’s second book from Drawn & Quarterly, You’re All Just Jealous of My Jetpack, collects his comic strips originally published in the Guardian’s review section. These strips mix high culture with low, creating a rare alchemy that is pitch-perfect and full of fun.
Gauld is a master of hilarious combinations. In one strip, a semi-nude Allen Ginsberg is Spiderman’s new crime-fighting sidekick. The webbed wonder advises Ginsberg “I’ll catch the crooks in my web, then you blow their minds with a poem.” Elsewhere the novels of the Bronte sisters are adapted into a videogame. And in one of the most mordant strips in the collection Samuel Beckett’s version of Tintin wanders a bleak landscape and mutters “Life might be slightly less horrible further on.”
All the strips offer a humorous engagement with the tropes of fiction and the banalities of literary creation, including self-aware literary characters who complain that their indecisive writer keeps changing their names, and Barbara, “a complex literary creation,” who is forced to break up with Michael, a mere sci-fi character. Many of the funniest strips involve absurd and erudite conceits such as “The Mouse, The Bird, and the Difficult Novel,” or “Feminist James Bond.” Throughout the collection, Gauld’s comic strips are smart, silly and hilarious.