The library is a great source of comics for new readers, just as it’s a great place for long-time comics readers. I’ll reviewing books that I find in the New York Public Library.
Bored With Life? Get Lost! The Comic Designed to Send You! lasted only three issues in the spring and summer of 1954. Conceived, published, written and illustrated nearly entirely by Ross Andru and Mike Esposito, Get Lost was a satire magazine in the vein of Mad. In fact, it was so in the vein of Mad, that Mad’s publisher Bill Gaines sued Andru and Esposito. Gaines lost, with the judge saying that he could not copyright humor! Nevertheless, their distributor’s bankruptcy ended up driving Get Lost out of business before it could reasonably establish itself in the market.
Hermes Press, according to the back-cover text, is a publisher devoted to full-color artbooks that preserve artifacts of pop culture, and earlier this year, they deigned Get Lost just such an artifact. The book form collects all three issues, a historical introduction and a closing interview with co-creator Mike Esposito. All three issues are presented, as far as I can tell, completely intact. Gag ads and a few short prose pieces are mingled in among the traditional comic book parodies.
If you’ve read Mad, you get the essential flavor. A parody of a popular movie or book, lots of Will Elder-style “chicken fat” background gags, and cartoonishly voluptuous women are rampant throughout. The production values are great, and the color leaps off the page. Andru and Esposito are such terrific artists that you can’t help admiring each page. It’s great artwork, and if the gags were more visual or slapstick, it would probably be a much more fulfilling book.
Unfortunately, the jokes just aren’t very funny. Part of the lack of humor might stem from the cultural divide between their references and my frame of mind reading these strips forty-some years later. Or perhaps they fall flat because trends in humor have changed to a degree. I suspect they weren’t really that funny to being with, however. I’ve seen really funny work from the 50s, and the truly engaging gags in this book are, unfortunately, few and far between.
Still, the art’s great, as most comics fans should expect from Andru at this point. I can even see a few younger readers enjoying the frivolity of Bored With Life? Get Lost! The Comic Designed to Send You!, but it’s unfortunately not a book I’d recommend anybody rush out to hunt it down.