Send Help! A Collection of Marooned Cartoons

Voracious. Nov. 2021. 208p. ed. by John Adams & Ellis Rosen. ISBN 9780316262798. $25.00. GRAPHIC NOVELS
In the history of single-panel cartooning, there may be no image more iconic than that of a castaway stranded on a tiny island with naught but a lone palm tree for shelter. While a set-up so well-worn might seem better suited to parodying comic strip tropes than delivering commentary on life in the 21st century, nearly every page of this anthology (edited by New Yorker cartoonists Adams and Ellis) proves otherwise. Skewed priorities are cleverly satirized in a comic strip depicting an aging castaway begging a new arrival not to spoil any of the television series he’s missed since being stranded, and another where a man assumes an S.O.S. written in the sand is the island’s Wi-Fi password. The anthology’s numerous contributions tackle themes like life in isolation, forced proximity’s strain on relationships, and the cognitive dissonance necessary to maintaining high spirits in the face of looming disaster—all particularly resonant at this point in the COVID-19 pandemic.
VERDICT A terrific anthology containing powerfully funny insights into modern life and highlighting how diverse voices and fresh perspectives can enliven a seemingly exhausted format.
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