This Is as Bad as It Gets. By Voutch. Andrews McMeel. $16.95.
Everything I Need to Know I Learned on “Jerry Springer”: A “Close to Home” Collection. By John McPherson. Andrews McMeel. $12.95.
Here we have a skewed French view of everyday life and a skewed American view of everyday life. If the French book proves somewhat more sophisticated, the American one is certainly more over-the-top – as its title and cover drawing suggest.
The cartoons by Voutch – a Paris-born cartoonist who uses a single name – were originally published in
There’s nothing sophisticated at all about John McPherson’s Close to Home, the perennial sendup of a wide variety of uniquely American foibles. McPherson does have a tendency to seem to repeat himself – you may not have seen the specific cartoons in his latest collection before, but you’ll get the feeling that you have seen many like them, and you’ll be right. Still, McPherson’s determinedly ugly people doing unerringly weird things are often very amusing. In the new collection, which is entirely in color (a feature that does not make the people any more attractive), you will find the office pool that will award a worker $200 if he eats every bit of crud from inside the break-room microwave oven; the suburban Trojan horse used by adult children to get their parents to allow them to move back home; the “Duct Tape Diet,” which simply involves putting duct tape over your mouth; the super-large coffin for the man who suffered all his life from claustrophobia; the accused polygamist who ends up with three of his mothers-in-law on the jury; the nervous speaker at a nudist convention, who calms himself by imagining audience members with their clothes on; the “Share-o-Matic,” to force siblings to cooperate with toy use at playtime; the two people who do so well in marriage counseling that they end up embracing passionately on the floor while the counselor vainly tries to distract them; and many more situations and characters that probably don’t exist, but maybe do. McPherson doesn’t exactly have his finger on the pulse of the everyday world, but he has it on the pulse of some everyday world. Much of the fun is in figuring out just how close to home his cartoons really come.