Tom Gauld’s Baking With Kafka, a new collection of one-panel cartoons, is a droll commentary on the writing business and the decline of books and reading.
Rather than a sustained narrative like Gauld’s Mooncop, Baking With Kafka consists of a number of self-contained commentaries, the uniting thread being the publishing industry and reading habits in general.
One cartoon shows a post-apocalyptic landscape. A guy in a space suit is walking his dog. “I thought that being a sci-fi character would be all flying cars, sexy robots and holidays on Alpha Centauri,” he muses.
That’s a typical Gauld joke.
The artist-illustrator has a light touch. Where Mooncop was melancholy, Baking With Kafka is mostly ironic. He takes down the paradoxes of time travel, snooty bookshops and Shakespeare adaptations.
In another panel, a studio head says to a fuming writer, “OK, but aside from the miscast lead, clumsy voiceover, plot butchery, unsuitable setting, ill-judged tone, historical errors, gratuitous nudity and tacked-on happy ending, are you pleased with our adaptation of your novel?”
Yet another of Gauld’s insightful picture-and-word combos has Herman Melville considering titles for his new novel: “The Whale? Of Whales and Men? Ahab and Moby’s Excellent Adventure? Where’s Moby?”
Baking With Kafka is a quick read that will make you smile. If you have a frustrated writer in your life, this just might be the perfect gift.