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Literary

Looking through the happiest books ever made.
December 1, 2003, 12:00am

Rick Altergott is a cartoonist’s cartoonist. Don’t get me wrong, Doofus is fucking funny and I have never read anything remotely like it, but my job as a critic is to tell you something you don’t know about the book to give it some perspective. The deal is, Altergott is Dan Clowes’ pet love the same way Johnny Ryan is Peter Bagge’s pet love. Only, unlike Robin to Batman or Lil’ Bow Bow to Snoop, these second fiddles are actually better than the main guys who give them cred. Johnny Ryan’s Angry Youth Comix (see johnnyr.com) are so good they’re in VICE now (see page 126). You have to experience this level of vacancy to understand its greatness. Like when Adolf Hitler revamps his image as “Hipler” or the one-pager called Fuckin’ Shit, wherein the protagonist proclaims “Fuckin’ shit is the shit!” It is everything Bagge should have done from day one (I think I heard him say that about his brother’s work once—same sort of thing). And while we’re on the topic, what has Peter Bagge done for me lately? A painfully trite, watered-down version of what makes him Bagge for DC Comics called Sweatshop that is like Studs Kirby meets Caroline in the City, only excruciating. He should have stuck to Internet animation. Oh yeah, and Dan Clowes. While Rick Altergott is painstakingly assembling every good Doofus ever made into this must-have volume of weird comic genius, Dan Clowes is still trying to make a movie about that Art School Confidential strip he did about a decade ago. If you don’t know what I’m talking about, pick up Twentieth Century Eightball and work backwards from there. By the time you get to Doofus you’ll either want to join this dysfunctional family or break a bottle in my asshole (sorry, I couldn’t think of a good closer).

KYLE STRACHAN

Sock Monkeys (200 out of 1,863)

By Arne Svenson and Ron Warren (Ideal World Books)

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Looking through this book makes me feel like a drooling idiot in the best possible way. This guy Ron has a room FULL of sock monkeys that he’s been collecting since 1985, and this photographer Arne has photographed a bunch of the cutest ones. The photos have an August Sander ethnography vibe, which makes the subjects even more silly and joyous.

JIM MILLSTONE

Sound Collector 8

Edited by Laris Kreslins and Fred Cisterna

OK, he is our friend, and yes, we’ve put this in VICE Literary before. But, holy fuck if they didn’t step it up with this new issue. From the all-pink type on thick paper to the cover story on the Rock Camp for Girls (which we are sticking bamboo shoots under our nails for not doing first), this is the best underground music rag out there.

JAN PEOPLES