Goats: Infinite Typewriters

It strikes me that there’s little point in my reviewing the content of a webcomic as apparently well-known and long-running as Goats. Jonathan Rosenberg started it in 1997, although this new volume collects comics from 2003-2005. There are eight new pages of introduction, since this volume is intended to be a suitable starting point for new readers. (Here’s a two-page sample of the new material.)

Goats: Infinite Typewriters cover
Goats: Infinite Typewriters
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Given my tastes and habits, a book is a good idea, since I wouldn’t have tried the series without it. Over a decade of archives becomes rather intimidating to someone interested who isn’t even sure what the strip is about. (That problem is shared with the author, who says, “There’s no good way to summarize it.”)

The strip started by telling slice-of-life gags, but after a storyline in 2002, it took a turn to science fiction/cultural parody with ongoing plotlines. I think I might have preferred the earlier version, because I admit, when it comes to the strips here, I don’t get it. Or perhaps it’s more accurate to say that I’m not interested. None of it really clicked with me.

There are two guys, a talking chicken named Diablo, his violent son Oliver, two aliens, and a fish in a beer glass (my favorite character). The goat of the title is Toothgnip, who pulls Thor’s chariot. The cast hang out in a pub and talk about religion, science, and life, then they meet God or Satan or build destructive machines or visit comic conventions.

The point seems to be the dialogue more than the events. The characters talk a lot. The art is serviceable but not particularly attractive, and it’s often pretty static. Although I think the strip’s longevity is an amazing accomplishment, I found the actual content boring and self-indulgent, although I admire the imagination involved. (Update: Given how long it’s been going, it’s clearly got an audience who sees things in it I’m missing. If you’re at all curious, you should check it out for yourself. It’s a webcomic. All it will cost you is time. If you like it, consider buying the book, because:)

The book itself is very impressive. Thick white gloss paper makes for a book with heft; it feels very solid and substantial. The square proportions allow for three rows of strips per page. Since they’re often three panels each, that makes for a simple, easy-to-read grid.

I do find it a little disingenuous for Del Rey to be publicizing this book as “Goats … collected for the first time”, given that there are three previous self-published volumes, but those will only be available until this book’s publication date, June 23. And it’s true that this book does contain never-before-published strips from the later, more current era.

This is the first of three books to be published by Del Rey. The Corndog Imperative is due in December, with Showcase Showdown following. (A complimentary copy for this review was provided by the publisher.)

6 Responses to “Goats: Infinite Typewriters”

  1. Jon Rosenberg Says:

    Johanna, thanks for the review! I’m sorry Goats wasn’t to your liking, it is certainly not for everyone and I am the first person to admit that. Hopefully you’ll give the next volume a shot anyhow, it may be more enjoyable for you since it is less of an introduction and more of a coherent storyline.

    Anyway, thanks again, even a bad review is useful feedback and I appreciate the time you took to read and comment on the book.

  2. Johanna Says:

    I appreciated the chance to check it out, and thank you for being so gracious. Thank you also for your help at MoCCA — I didn’t introduce myself, but you were very kind when I was looking for a table number and wound up on the wrong end of the island.

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