Wondermark Vol. 2: Clever Tricks to Stave off Death

by David Malki

Publisher: Dark Horse Comics

Format: Hardcover, 8 x 8, full color, $14.95

ISBN: 978-1-59582-329-8

Reviewed by: Publishers Weekly

Malki's nationally syndicated Wondermark comic strips are a form of resuscitated art in which 19th-century woodcuts and engravings get repurposed into 21st-century humor with snarky dialogue. Popularized most by their appearances in the Onion, whose high- and lowbrow satirical mixture is a perfect fit for Malki's sensibility, this is the second mordant but must-have Wondermark collection from Dark Horse. A typical Malki gag rises out of the World of Tomorrow–esque frisson of his staid premodern images of stiff men (frequently mustached and wearing waistcoats while lounging in drawing rooms) or women (parasols and cherubic expressions being their norm) exchanging dialogue more appropriate for a MySpace chatroom than Dickensian fiction. Malki's humor often has a surrealistic bent reminiscent of Terry Gilliam, given some extra steel by a near-constant obsession with death and disease, with particular attention in a hilarious end-of-book “Malady Matrix.” A little of Malki goes a long way, but it's a rare page that doesn't merit at least a chuckle.