Kookabarry: The Collected Strips.
I don't usually buy books that are collections of comic strips. In fact I almost never do. I don't have anything against strips as such, but I'm definitely a comic book (or graphic novel) kind of guy, not a comic strip kind of guy. I bent that rule at a Supanova Sydney by picking up a copy of David Follett's collection of Kookabarry strips from the cartoonist himself. I was buying just about everything else he had for sale, so I thought I may as well get it too. I'm glad I did.
The reason why I was buying up everything Follett had on offer was the brilliant quality of the artwork. As a cartoonist he is world-class, with slick, inky brushwork that invokes the feeling of classic 'toon illustration but still has as a very modern style to it. His art is, in a word, tops!
However, the reason I don't often buy collections like this is that I'm not a fan of the gag-a-day, stop-and-start feeling of reading such things. That being said, Follett had me amused through most of this book, especially with attempting to produce continuing 'story lines' at various times, while effectively gaining multiple laughs from the one situation. That's not a new technique in comic strips, but certainly one used well here.
The strip follows the antics and interactions of a group of outback animals. Louise the koala, Sebastian the platypus, Grub the witchetty grub, and of course Kookabarry the kookaburra, to name only a few of the largish cast. It's one of those strips where, despite the naturalistic setting, playing cards, picture frames and other human props are on hand if needed. Some of the punchlines may be a little obvious, but most of the time Follett delivers the funny, and often he does so with a slight pinch of satire or commentary.
The other notable point is the lovely Aussie feel to the art and writing. I know the animal characters are all obviously Australian, but there's something beyond that in the line-work and dialogue which also marks this as plainly, but not obtrusively, Australian in a great, positive way.
This 52 page book (printed on recycled paper) collects everything that was printed in Sydney's Sunday Telegraph as well as a run of strips not seen before (a satirical dig at modern art), and has a cover price of $8. I'm not sure that you can buy Kookabarry: The Collected Strips by itself, but there is an option to buy it along with some of Follett's other fabulous work on his blog here: davefolletto.blogspot.com (look for the 'COMPLETE COMICS PACKAGE!' in the sidebar). Or drop him a line through his website. It's well worth the read.
Above: An illustration I did for the heck of it featuring Barry, a goanna, and of course Greener Pastures' Trevor.