This is the comic book fan’s equivalent of the novelty gift book, the kind of slender tome you see lying by the cashier counter or near the coffee line at your local big-box corporate book store. If you have a family member who knows about your comics hobby, there’s a good chance (assuming you celebrate the holiday of course) you might get this as a Christmas present (“I saw the title and immediately thought of you.”)
The good news is the book is a pretty entertaining, if extremely cursory look, through some of the more oddball comics that have cropped up over the past 50 years or so. The selections tend to range from the so-awful-it’s-hilarious (Brother Power the Geek, Reagan’s Raiders) to the genuinely strange and/or disturbing (Jack Chick’s Crusaders, Amputee Love), to the quite good but containing subject matter that is rather out there (Binky Brown Meets the Holy Virgin Mary, My Friend Dahmer).
Whether or not these particular books qualify as “world’s weirdest” is, I suppose, a matter up for debate, though there are certainly some doozies. Overall, I liked how the authors tried to provide a wide assortment of works from different genres (underground, promotional, Christian, porn, etc.) and refused to rely on any sort of anachronistic snarking that seems to be the stuff of so many blogs these days. In other words, there’s something here to confound just about anyone.
Each entry is only given two pages, one of those being a full-page reproduction of said comic’s cover. The opposite page only gets one sampled panel and quote as well as a brief description by Gravett and Stanbury.
Quite frankly, I could have used more. The authors do a nice job with the limited space provided to summarized and underscore why each entry deserves to be included here. And I’m sure the temptation to just stick with the really awful stuff and serve up some MST3K-style snark was hard to overcome. But, I wish the book offered a bit more substance or at least some more excerpts of the comics in question. It’s hard to get a feel for them with the skimy materials provided here. To a large extent, this book is nothing but a tease.
Bu that’s to be expected with a book of this nature I suppose. My own interest/fascination with the bizarre runds deep enough that I would honestly prefer a longer book, with more selections and more in-depth analysis, but I’m funny that way. Holy Sh*t! is designed to give you a taste of the crazyness that’s out there and nothing more. You certainly wouldn’t regret the purchase and it will likely induce some interesting conversations among you and your friends, but it’s far from essential, even by its own very limited standards.