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

Celadon. Nov. 2022. 256p. ISBN 9781250815293. $30. FILM
This breezy, funny, informative illustrated book is a fun second collaboration between actor/novelist Martin (An Object of Beauty) and New Yorker cartoonist Bliss, after 2020’s A Wealth of Pigeons: A Cartoon Collection. The volume’s first half, where the antic Martin zips through multi-panel, illustrated experiences and on-set acquaintances encountered during his 40 years of movie roles, is a follow-up to his 2008 memoir Born Standing Up. Readers will learn Martin’s perceptions of famous coworkers, such as Carl Reiner, John Candy, Robin Williams, Mike Nichols, Diane Keaton, Bernadette Peters, Goldie Hawn, Lily Tomlin, and Martin Short. He also discusses his decision to stop making films. The title echoes an assistant director’s comment about the actor’s hierarchy in various films. The book’s second half consists of largely one-panel observational cartoons that frequently feature anthropomorphic cats and dogs, where Martin provides the punchline and Bliss the illustration.
VERDICT Martin is a hilarious physical and multiple-voiced comic whose genius arguably doesn’t convey as well in the more subtle print medium. Readers who enjoyed A Wealth of Pigeons should enjoy Martin and Bliss’s newest collaboration as well.
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