Dana Jones’ series, Product of the Eighties, is basically one gag repeated for seventy-six pages, but the gag is clever enough, and Dana Jones works enough variety into the bit that, even after seeing it done seventy-plus times, it is still fresh. Aren’t you interested in finding out what the gag is?
The gag in question is that Jones posts four pictures in a strip, all yearbook photos. Sometimes they’re all the same person, sometimes they are four different people. In any event, underneath each picture, Jones has a caption. Read together, the captions tell a joke, almost always a sardonic comment about either something that happened to the person in the yearbook picture back in high school or what has happened to the person in the yearbook picture since high school.
The jokes are entrenched in a universal adolescence, in that people who grew up in the 60s, 70s or 90s would appreciate the jokes, but all the references are specifically 80s one.
Shawn Hoke (whose review got me interested in this book, and I mentioned it at the time, but, of course, I never got around to actually BUYING the durn thing, until Jones saw my interest and sent me a copy) supplies both the cover above and a sample page, so you can have a visual hint as to the jokes in this book.
First seventh grader: “My fist Cure album was Seventeen Seconds.”
Second seventh grader: “My first Cure album was Staring at the Sea.”
Third seventh grader: “My first Cure album was Disintegration.”
Fourth seventh grader: “What’s the Cure?”
Remember what I said before about the book being just as fresh after seventy-plus strips? Okay, that might have been a bit of an exaggeration. While you would still appreciate the humor of the comic on the seventieth strip or so, the jokes definitely follow a stylistic pattern that does get a bit much when read all at once. Specifically – Normal statement, Normal statement, Normal statement, Droll punchline based on veering away from the first three statements.
For instance, under the picture of a normal looking kid…
First: “Every year, we have this assembly.”
Second: “A man on stage is surrounded by prizes and tells us to sell his candy.”
Third: “He says to go raise money for the school in exchange for his trinkets.”
Fourth: “No, seriously. This is a legal, common practice in our school system.”
Or this one, under the picture of an interesting looking young lady…
First: “I wanted to be the first in class to get boobs.”
Second: “Turns out my friend Julie was. But now I feel sorry for her.”
Third: “All the girls are calling her a slut because of the attention she gets from boys.”
Fourth: “Okay…so it was me that called her a slut.”
See what I mean? Very funny stuff, but if you read them all in a row, while you might not know exactly WHAT the fourth panel will be, you know the basic idea behind it – it’ll be some droll statement twisting the first three. Which doesn’t make each strip less funny, it just means that this is a book that is best read in small chunks, not all at once.
What’s especially impressive is that there ARE so many of these strips in this collection. Over seventy strips! How dumb was I not to get this thing earlier?
You can e-mail Dana yourself to see how much the book costs, and how you could go about getting your very own copy!
Definitely recommended. A lot of good laughs.
Edited to add: I put this review up almost two months ago, but through a glitch, it never showed up. I only noticed it when I was flipping through some old posts (it was accidentally marked “Private,” so I could see it but no one else could. And since I could see it, I presumed it was published and just no one was commenting :)).
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