In, by Will McPhail (Sceptre, 2021)

An illustrator struggles with communicating in the big city: then he meets someone. Wry and melancholic in places, particularly at its outset, this is nevertheless ultimately a good-looking but manipulative and slight graphic novel, its narrative coming across as forced and mechanistic. Not for me, really, then, though it may well speak to others.

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My own books are here, if that’s your thing. Newest is noir thriller East of England.

Zombie Spaceship Wasteland, by Patton Oswalt (Scribner, 2011)

An episodic and non-linear autobiography, with other writings. Inevitably patchy (the non-autobiographical material is weaker, though it’s fun to re-read the Neill Cumpston movie reviews again) but nevertheless engaging stories from childhood, adolescence, and of various bad times on the comedy circuit. For fans only, maybe, but that’s a broad outsider church.

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My own books are here, if that’s your thing. Newest is noir thriller East of England.

Quarantine Comix: A Memoir of Life in Lockdown, by Rachael Smith (Icon Books, 2021)

A diary of mental health and struggling to cope during the initial phase of the coronavirus, told in comic strips. An interesting personal record of the first half of 2020, with a focus on the ways that the pandemic fed into individual anxieties. Might have benefited from dates by the entries: documents like these will have value in the years to come, and it’d be useful to have that context to these responses.

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My own books are here, if that’s your thing. Newest is noir thriller East of England.

If I Only Had The Time: How To Keep Writing When The World Stops Moving, by Dave Cohen (TTTTTT Publications, 2021)

Reflections on creative writing: access, opportunities, and restrictions in 2021. An excellent short overview, with comedy writer Cohen bringing his decades of experience to the table. A focus throughout on the impacts of coronavirus and the internet, and on the need to both re-evaluate goals and directions while seeing new realities as chances. Recommended.

My own books are here, if that’s your thing. Newest is noir thriller East of England.

Pundamentalist, by Gary Delaney (Headline, 2020)

A collection of one-and two-line gags, puns, and wordplay from the UK stand-up comedian. And that’s it: the book does exactly what it promises. There’s about 1000 well-crafted little jokes here, some obviously selected as they work better in print rather than delivered on stage. All tastes catered for, from the cheekily rude to the impressively inventive.

My own books are here, if that’s your thing. Newest is noir thriller East of England.

Born Standing Up: A Comic’s Life, by Steve Martin (Pocket Books, 2008)

An autobiography of comedian Steve Martin, charting his early life and stand-up career. Excellent, clear-sighted, and well-written: whether you like Martin or not, there’s a lot here on creativity, persistence, and on being able to walk away, while also dealing with family relationships with honesty and perception. Recommended.

My own books are here, if that’s your thing. Newest is noir thriller East of England.

Ghost Writer, by Rayco Pulido [trans. Andrea Rosenberg] (Fantagraphics, 2020)

Bodies accumulate as the ghost writer of a radio agony column draws on listeners’ letters in their serial killing. 1940s Barcelona-set deadpan absurdist noir that might be a touch impenetrable at first, but which comes with some useful appendices: based on a real-world radio show. Great-looking though, being rendered in lovely monochrome.

My own books are here, if that’s your thing. Newest is noir thriller East of England.

The Future of British Politics, by Frankie Boyle (Unbound, 2020)

This monograph – one of a new series – offers stand-up Boyle a little bit of a platform to let fly from. And it’s great stuff, too. Boyle 2.0 is a supremely effective satirist (or as much as one can be) and the craftsmanship of the gags on display here is terrific too. Lots of fun, plus I learned something about 1707.

My own books are here, if that’s your thing. Newest is noir thriller East of England.

The Problem With Men: When Is It International Men’s Day? (And Why It Matters), by Richard Herring (Sphere, 2020)

Comedian Herring, via his annual Twitter efforts helping sexists with easily-searchable information, discusses toxic masculinity and related topics. A breezy introduction, focused on the seemingly eternal quest to publicise International Men’s Day. Accessible and fun, it’s a handy primer on futility and perseverance from the Brit stand-up Sisyphus.

My own books are here, if that’s your thing. Newest is noir thriller East of England.

Digging up Mother: A Love Story [AKA The Long Version of a Suicide Post-It Note: A Love Story], by Doug Stanhope (Da Capo Press, 2016)

The stand-up comic’s autobiography, focusing on his relationship with – and the death of – his mother. A million miles from the “dead dad” comedy trope of a few years back, this is a scabrous, honest, and funny account of Stanhope’s life, loves and borderline criminal experiences to date, and of the influence of his mum on his worldview. Recommended.

My own books are here, if that’s your thing. Newest is noir thriller East of England