Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Craig Yoe’s Weird But True Toon Factoids! by Craig Yoe

I can’t imagine anyone not finding something of interest in Craig Yoe’s Weird But True Toon Factoids!, a delightful collection of cartoon minutiae from across the globe that spans more than a hundred years from the earliest examples of newspaper and children’s book illustrations to the cartoons of today.
Each page is stuffed with fascinating trivia about the characters, their creators, their influence on society and culture. Even someone who may not like cartoons would have their interests piqued with Yoe’s celebrity-centric snippets, such as Michele Pfeiffer’s amusing self-evaluation of her infamous lips—“I look like Donald Duck”—or the superheroic inspiration for Elvis Presley’s renown look—Captain Marvel Junior. Pages are also seeded with rare drawings done by celebrities themselves—some delineated exclusively for the book—like Jimmy Stewart, Bob Dylan and George Takei.

As a longtime aficionado of all-things-toon, I was familiar with some of the facts presented in the book. But more often was surprised by the tidbits therein, like Tweety Bird’s original color being change from pink to yellow, because censors believed the character was nude. And those snippets I was aware of were accompanied by a rare illustration or photo I had never seen before, such as Batman creator Bob Kane’s swimsuit sketches of Marilyn Monroe whom he had met at the beach one day when she was still merely Norma Jean.

Yoe casts his probing fingers into all avenues of the genre: Comic strips, political cartoons, advertising icons, comic books, animated features, television and magazine illustration. The facts come fast and furiously, but Yoe—a master designer—makes each page seem unhurried and roomy. Nonplused by one entry? The one following will please. And Yoe’s odd trim size (9.6 x 6.1) marries perfectly with the fun, often quirky, subject matter. You’ll have a hard time putting it down—I found myself getting lost in its pages all over again while putting this review together—and a book you’ll have fun sharing with others.

Craig Yoe’s Weird But True Toon Factoids! gets four and a half spiders.

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