cover image Number One Is Walking: My Life in the Movies and Other Diversions

Number One Is Walking: My Life in the Movies and Other Diversions

Steve Martin and Harry Bliss. Celadon, $30 (256p) ISBN 978-1-250-81529-3

Martin—comedian, writer, musician, and “one of the few actors to play a sadistic dentist twice”—teams up again with New Yorker cartoonist Bliss in this irresistibly charming ramble through Martin’s career in film (following A Wealth of Pigeons). In a series of short comics, Martin reminisces about life on the set of such films as The Jerk; Three Amigos; Planes, Trains and Automobiles; Dirty Rotten Scoundrels; and Bowfinger. In Hollywood, Martin learns how to act natural in front of a camera, discovers that the secret to writing a screenplay adaptation is to follow “the course of a failed marriage,” and finds friends in fellow comedians such as John Candy, Diane Keaton, Carl Reiner, and Robin Williams. In Bliss’s whimsical drawings, meticulously caricatured celebrities rub shoulders with comic-strip characters and Martin periodically wanders away from the narrative to talk to Bliss’s dog. The softly shaded pencil art moves smoothly between photorealistic portraits and loose, gestural cartoons as the material demands. Martin maintains his famous comedic persona of guileless arrogance, the jerk he’s played on and off since his early stand-up days. But his memories reveal a thoughtful, regularly starstruck performer who anxiously counts the laughs at a screening of All of Me and drives home from a viewing of Parenthood lamenting that “everyone in this movie is great except me.” Film buffs, comedy fans, and legion admirers of both the actor and artist will find themselves smiling from cover to cover. Agents: (for Martin) Esther Newberg, ICM Partners; (for Bliss) Holly McGhee, Pippin. (Nov.)