Rehabilitating Mr. Wiggles, Vol. 2

Neil Swaab, Author, Neil Swaab, Illustrator . NBM $10.95 (75p) ISBN 978-1-56163-428-6

Some of the pieces in this collection of alternative-weekly newspaper comic strips are grossly offensive, while some are hilarious—and they're frequently the same ones. Swaab's strip has two continuing characters: a balding, insecure geek, who stands in for the cartoonist, and his eponymous companion, a cute, crack-addicted, child-molesting teddy bear. Imagine Garfield with a much more sarcastic attitude and very serious behavior problems. Every time either Neil or Mr. Wiggles starts looking cuddly or emotionally needy, the other responds with a devastating putdown or a poop prank. Whether insulting people with physical handicaps or taking an alcoholic Jesus to an AA meeting, each strip dances gleefully past the far fringes of good taste. That's part of the humor, as readers' nervous laughter reveals how artificial our polite attitudes really are. At times, this feels like a continuation of the angry underground comix of R. Crumb and S. Clay Wilson, even though Swaab's minimalist style looks more like Scott Adams's mild Dilbert than the work of those earlier taboo-mocking cartoonists. Nevertheless, his depraved little heart is in the right place. (Sept.)

Reviewed on: 08/29/2005
Release date: 06/01/2005
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