Craig Yoe’s latest book celebrating cartoon history, The Complete Milt Gross Comic Books and Life Story is not so much a book as it is a small museum. All cartoonists should be so lucky to get such a lovingly assembled retrospective.
The book is not a complete collection of Gross’s work, but does represent a complete collection of the artists’s hard-to-find comic book work. What’s more is the sheet amount of extras, photos, sketches, original art, and other rare pieces of Milt Gross ephemera that you’ll find in its pages.
The meat of the book is the comics, though. Milt Gross’s cartooning is loose and wild, and is quite unlike anything that came before or after. Although I’ve been marginally aware of Milt Gross’s work with the help of books like Dan Nadel’s Art Out of Time and the National Cartoonist Society’s Milt Gross Fund (now the NCS Foundation), this book offered me my first substantial introduction to his work.
It’s a manic, colourful world where anything goes. Gross’s floppy-armed grotesque characters that zoom from one antic to the next remind me of The Muppet Show if they remind me of anything, and that’s most certainly a good thing.