Questionable Content Book 4

The fourth collection of the popular webcomic Questionable Content has been published in a new format, one that will be shared by previous editions as they need reprinting.

Questionable Content Book 4 cover

The first three books are roughly magazine-sized, running two strips vertically per page for a total page count of 160 or so for the approximately 300 comics each contains. The new book is much smaller and chunkier. Each four-panel strip is published two panels per page, with a facing spread holding one comic. The result is 300 strips in 550 pages, but the panels are much larger, so they’re much more readable. With the third volume, I almost gave up because the print was so tiny. On the web, you can blow up word balloons with heavy amounts of text. In print, you’re out of luck unless you still own a magnifying glass.

That’s the biggest plus — a book that (although heavier) is easier to hold and read. However, there are still some improvements I’d like to see. The strips, while numbered, aren’t dated. It requires web research to determine that the comics printed here (#900-1199, from a webcomic now over #2700) were originally published in 2007 and 2008. (That’s based on the copyright date on the comics. They’re not dated online, either.) Sometimes, the numbers skip without explanation. It turns out that missing numbers were guest comics, based on the couple I checked out, which aren’t included. That’s also not explained.

I love that each strip has a creator comment, but too often, they’re light on content. That’s author Jeph Jacques’ choice, of course, but they feel somewhat slapdash. I’d appreciate at least a few notes on his creative process. It doesn’t matter to me, since I’m happy to have the large chunk of comics available to read away from the computer, but if you’ve already read the strips online and are buying this for the extra material, don’t.

There’s no additional text, no introduction, no afterword, no author’s essay. Perhaps the thought was that the book was already long enough, but a couple of pages putting this chunk of webcomics into context would have been a nice touch. That would have also been a great place to put some more substantial authorial notes. Now, though, I’m wandering into “I would have done it differently” territory. Overall, the new format is an improvement, easier to both read and store.

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