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Tillabooks: Will's Book Blog

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Spy vs Spy 2 by David Shayne

Spy vs Spy 2: The Joke and Dagger Files by David Shayne. New York: Watson-Guptill Publications, 2007. ISBN: 978-08230-5035-2

I don't usually read comic books or graphic novels. However, I do avidly read the comic page, “the funnies” as we used to call them, every day in the newspaper. And I used to like Mad Magazine when I was younger, and had more time for such things.

Everybody knows Spy vs. Spy. It's been a mainstay of MAD Magazine forever, pretty much. This is apparently the second book-length collection of Spy vs. Spy cartoons. The original creator of the strip was Antonio Prohias, a Cuban expatriate. The first collection, titled Spy vs. Spy: The Complete Casebook, published in 2001, was devoted to his work.

When Prohias finally retired, after almost 40 years of Spy vs. Spy, various in house writers (Duck Edwing, Russ Cooper, etc.) took over, with first Bob Clark and later Dave Manak responsible for most of the drawings. These strips are featured in the first 100+ pages of the book

Then in 1996, MAD was undergoing a face lift. The editors looked for a new look for Spy along with the rest of the mag, and at some point, offered the job to already established artist, Peter Kuper. Kuper brought a new air-brushed look to Spy, and as both a writer and an artist, brought both halves of the strip back into one brain. His creations take us through page 291.

To close out the book, we have a few pages of Spy vs Spy JR, designed for a pre-teen kids version of MAD, plus a few pages of Spy vs. Spy, The Comic Strip, which actually ran (briefly) in syndication in various newspapers.

I've had this book sitting on the floor next to my computer for the past six or seven weeks. It was my “read while waiting” book. If the computer was taking too long to load a web page, or to process a graphics file, or any of the other interminable things that computers make you wait for, I'd grab the Spy book, and read a strip or too. Great way to pass the otherwise wasted time!

My only complaint? Occasionally the jokes are too arcane, too abstruse, too convoluted, even for me. If you don't get it on first look, it's too much. But even I'll admit those were few and far between. Spy vs. Spy continually reminds us of the futility of war, covert or otherwise.

So there you have it—read this book, and you'll be fully up-to-date on Spy vs. Spy, at least through 2007. And all without buying a single MAD magazine. Thoroughly recommended for all Spy vs Spy fans, MAD Magazine fans, and anyone else who wonders what all the fuss is about.

2 Comments:

  • david shayne is a liberal / commie jerk -- he has too brainwash little kids in madd magazine , about president bush and any of his immoral ideas what a jerk , i am canceling my sons subscription, its bad enough all the hollywood creeps are screwing with kids heads now madd magazine ,

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 4:05 PM  

  • I disagree totally with your assessment. I personally think President Bush is the worst thing to happen to this country in the past century. But you're entitled to your opinion, and I'm a firm believer in free speech, so I've posted your comment, even though I would prefer that you identify yourself, and not hide under the cloak of anonymity.

    By Blogger Will, at 6:32 PM  

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