Chuckling Whatsit

Overview

A genre-defining masterpiece of graphic noir comes back into print.

In The Chuckling Whatsit, Sala weaves the gothic cartooning traditions of Edward Gorey and Charles Addams with a densely constructed, melodramatic murder mystery involving astrology, ghouls, academia and outsider art. Part noir, part horror and part comedy, this labyrinthian tale of intrigue follows an unemployed writer named Broom who becomes unwittingly ensnared in a complex...
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Seattle, WA U.S.A. 1997 Paperback First Edition; First Printing New 7" x 10 1/2" 1560972815. New, unread, unmarked. Out of Print first printing with different cover design. This ... ia a collector's grade copy. Read more Show Less

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Paperback New Perfect. *****PLEASE NOTE: This item is shipping from an authorized seller in Europe. In the event that a return is necessary, you will be able to return your ... item within the US. To learn more about our European sellers and policies see the BookQuest FAQ section***** Read more Show Less

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Overview

A genre-defining masterpiece of graphic noir comes back into print.

In The Chuckling Whatsit, Sala weaves the gothic cartooning traditions of Edward Gorey and Charles Addams with a densely constructed, melodramatic murder mystery involving astrology, ghouls, academia and outsider art. Part noir, part horror and part comedy, this labyrinthian tale of intrigue follows an unemployed writer named Broom who becomes unwittingly ensnared in a complex plot involving mysterious outsider artist Emile Jarnac, the shadowy machinations of the Ghoul Appreciation Society Headquarters (GASH), and the enigmatic Mr. Ixnay. Sala's deadpan delivery makes this ingeniously layered narrative a roller-coaster ride of darkly pure comic suspense.

Sala's drawing style, while most often compared to Edward Gorey, also reveals the influence of everything from Hollywood monster movies and Dick Tracy to German expressionism and Grimm's fairy tales. It's a style that's perfectly suited to the narrative, constantly flirting with Sala's fascination for the grotesque and lending palpable tension to the gruesome riddle of The Chuckling Whatsit.

Sala's eclectic career includes contributions to Art Spiegelman's RAW magazine, MTV's Liquid Television, The New York Times, Playboy and his ongoing Evil Eye comic book series from Fantagraphics, though The Chuckling Whatsit remains his most popular work.
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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Pulp fiction lives (or at least lurches about entertainingly) in this lurid melodrama that features a swarm of characters in manic pursuit of the eponymous Whatsit, a leather doll that laughs when shaken and may be made from flayed human skin. Unlike The Maltese Falcon, there's no smart, unsentimental Sam Spade on hand to sort things out. Instead, intrepid but rather dense reporter Broom wanders through a tangled plot, bumping repeatedly into assassins, femme fatales, dangerous servants, obsessed doll collectors and a lunatic, leather-masked serial killer. Even though almost everyone dies along the way, the mystery persists through the final bloodbath. The considerable fun is in watching the action slosh further and further over the top. Sala's black and white art is appropriately grotesque, looking like a comics version of The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari: buildings tilt ominously around misshapen characters whose noses point in multiple directions and whose feet only sometimes touch the ground. The wildly imaginative storytelling and sly pastiche of lurid pulp material make an appealing mix. (Nov.) Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.
Library Journal
Sala, whose work has been seen in the New York Times, Esquire, and Playboy, here offers a novel first serialized in Zero, Zero. This mildly chilling black-and-white work concerns the hunt for the "Chuckling Whatsit," a doll rumored to be made from the skin and hair of victims of a serial killer supposedly dead. Protagonist Broom, a daily horoscope writer, quickly falls into dangerous company because he allegedly has information about the murderer. Instead of running, Broom joins the hunt, believing that if he identifies the killer he will be paid handsomely. Sala's style nicely mixes the humorous and the horrific as he appropriately distances himself from his protagonist and other supporting characters. In a story that leaves no survivors, readers are nevertheless more amused than terrified. For larger public libraries.Stephen Weiner, Maynard P.L., Mass.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781560972815
  • Publisher: Fantagraphics Books
  • Publication date: 11/5/2005
  • Edition description: Reissue
  • Pages: 200
  • Product dimensions: 7.07 (w) x 10.27 (h) x 0.56 (d)

Meet the Author

Richard Sala lives in Berkeley, CA and grew up in Chicago where his father was an antique dealer. As a youngster, he spent what might be considered an unhealthy amount of time at the Chicago museums, staring at the mummies, stuffed animals and caveman dioramas. His comics and drawings have appeared in McSweeney's, Little Lit, RAW, Playboy, The New York Times and The Washington Post, amongst other publications.
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