MAGIC WHISTLE: Bigger, Larger, and Bigger!
Spinning off from an irregularly published series of small comics, Henderson's madcap Magic Whistle is now an annual paperback collection. The author was nominated for an Emmy Award for his work on the cartoon hit SpongeBob SquarePants , and his comics are indeed like storyboards, perfect distillations of misguided cause and disastrous effect. The drawing is minimal—cartoony, almost abstract figures with a few defining characteristics—but the humor, although often X-rated or scatological, can be surprisingly subtle. Henderson's surreal, manic wit tends to be best in short doses (as in single panel cartoons entitled "Cartoon I'm too lazy to send to The New Yorker " or single pages featuring such characters as Dirty Danny and Pickles, the Exploding Dog). Longer stories, such as one about a mishap with a postage stamp vending machine, can outstay their welcome. The central piece is "Tex Drew, Public Defender," a full-color extravaganza drawn in various styles that covers everything from banal newspaper strips to Tijuana Bibles while sending up the idea of the superstar cartoonist (embodied by Henderson himself). Slightly more successful is the social satire of an untitled tale that sees hippies, frat boys and beatniks battling over rights to a beach, each with their own lingo and clichés. Although the collection is uneven, Henderson is truly one of the world's funniest cartoonists, proving the title of one of his earlier collections: Humor Can Be Funny. (Mar.)