March 07, 2013
(++++) FORMAT WARS
The Stinking: A “Get Fuzzy” Treasury. By Darby Conley. Andrews McMeel. $16.99.
Masters of the Nonsenseverse: A “Get Fuzzy” Collection. By Darby Conley. Andrews McMeel. $12.99.
Survival of the Filthiest: A “Get Fuzzy” Collection. By Darby Conley. Andrews McMeel. $12.99.
Here at last is the definitive answer to the question of how best to purchase collections of comic strips published by Andrews McMeel, as smaller-size “Collection” books or larger “Treasury” volumes. And the definitive answer is: it depends.
This is not quite as wishy-washy as it sounds. The “Collection” books always appear first, and nowadays they include Sunday strips in color, which used to be a feature only of the larger “Treasury” volumes. “Collection” books cost less, but two of them together cost more than a single “Treasury” volume – and the “Treasury” does indeed contain two “Collection” volumes. The size of the “Treasury” allows all the strips, daily as well as Sunday, to be reproduced in a larger size, which makes them look better as long as the art is even reasonably good (and Darby Conley’s in Get Fuzzy is more-than-reasonably good). The cover of a “Treasury” is different from the cover of either of the two “Collection” books included in it, which means that if you want as many covers from an artist as you can get – Conley covers, in this case – you have to buy all three books. So “Collection” volumes win for timeliness and because you get two covers by buying two of them. “Treasury” volumes win for price, for size, and for containing two “Collection” books in a single place. Probably the best solution is to get the “Collection” books when they come out and read them so many times that they disintegrate. Keep the covers, and then get the “Treasury” so you have a third cover and pristine copies of all the strips included in the two previous “Collection” books. How’s that?
Somewhere out there, cartoonists are cheering this notion, as is Andrews McMeel, since this approach guarantees the publisher the sale of more books and increases whatever royalty pittance the cartoonists get. Everyone wins, including any buyer who enjoys a particular strip, such as Get Fuzzy, enough to keep making investments in it.
Actually, Get Fuzzy is worth investing in, increasingly so these days. Although mild-mannered advertising executive Rob Wilco is still a dull character and often drawn without appropriate expressions (when he has any at all), Conley’s really important characters, buck-toothed Siamese cat Bucky and put-upon mixed-breed pooch Satchel, have become more finely honed and much more fun to observe over time. They would not be fun to live with, which is why it is good that they live with Rob rather than with Get Fuzzy readers, but any cat person or dog person will recognize just enough of real-life canines and felines in Satchel and Bucky to be grateful that these are cartoon versions only. The Stinking has a marvelous cover taking off from Stanley Kubrick’s film version of Stephen King’s The Shining, showing Satchel looking nervously behind him as he rides a kiddie car with the license plate “Satc-Hell” along the film’s famous hallway – right toward oddly attired Bucky and other Get Fuzzy characters. But the two “Collection” books included in the “Treasury” volume have wonderful covers, too, especially Masters of the Nonsenseverse, which features a compendium of fish bones, armor, fur, a volcano, a deranged-looking Rob appearing as a wizard and carrying a rugby ball atop his staff while wearing a “Property of Evil” hoodie, and so forth. Survival of the Filthiest offers a caveman-times cover, with another volcano and with Bucky about to club Satchel on the head. As for the strips inside these various books, they include the now-usual antics revolving mostly around Bucky’s constant scheming: the anti-ferret petition, the bad poetry, the insistence on using dialogue from “Dust Bowl Willy” (a nonexistent Depression-era comic strip), the possessed litter box (with attempted exorcism), the declaration and eventual demise of the state of Buckyvania (located in the closet where Bucky lives), the attempted ghostbusting by the Atlantic Research of Supernatural Entities Group, the feline cable-access psychic – no surprises here, just a series of ordinary days in a home shared by a cat, a dog and a wimp. At least this particular cat, dog and wimp.
And what is the best way to buy into this fractured fairy tale of a world? Well, you pays your money and you takes your choice. Or you pays more of your money and you takes your choices, plural. These “Collection” and “Treasury” volumes are equally worth collecting and treasuring.