Chuckling Whatsit

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9781560972815: Chuckling Whatsit

A genre-defining masterpiece of graphic noir comes back into print.

In The Chuckling Whatsit, Sala weaves the gothic cartooning traditions of Edward Gorey and Charles Addams with a densely constructed, melodramatic murder mystery involving astrology, ghouls, academia and outsider art. Part noir, part horror and part comedy, this labyrinthian tale of intrigue follows an unemployed writer named Broom who becomes unwittingly ensnared in a complex plot involving mysterious outsider artist Emile Jarnac, the shadowy machinations of the Ghoul Appreciation Society Headquarters (GASH), and the enigmatic Mr. Ixnay. Sala's deadpan delivery makes this ingeniously layered narrative a roller-coaster ride of darkly pure comic suspense.

Sala's drawing style, while most often compared to Edward Gorey, also reveals the influence of everything from Hollywood monster movies and Dick Tracy to German expressionism and Grimm's fairy tales. It's a style that's perfectly suited to the narrative, constantly flirting with Sala's fascination for the grotesque and lending palpable tension to the gruesome riddle of The Chuckling Whatsit.

Sala's eclectic career includes contributions to Art Spiegelman's RAW magazine, MTV's Liquid Television, The New York Times, Playboy and his ongoing Evil Eye comic book series from Fantagraphics, though The Chuckling Whatsit remains his most popular work.

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Review:

Broom, hack writer turned detective by necessity, is having a heck of a time figuring out why astrology columnists are turning up dead, seemingly at the hand of the Gull Street Ghoul, a killer from the city's past. The solution to the crimes involves a strange organization named G.A.S.H., a shadowy masked man named Mister Ixnay, and tiny outsider-art dolls called "whatsits." Your Flesh magazine says that The Chuckling Whatsit "smacks of the sweet aroma of a venus flytrap. This is film noir in comics form: dark stormy nights, twisted cities, long shadows, a knife in the back, all seen through a fish-eye lens of madness." Richard Sala weaves a mystery that turns and twists and leaves you guessing, wanting more.

About the Author:

Richard Sala lives in Berkeley, CA and grew up in Chicago where his father was an antique dealer. As a youngster, he spent what might be considered an unhealthy amount of time at the Chicago museums, staring at the mummies, stuffed animals and caveman dioramas. His comics and drawings have appeared in McSweeney's, Little Lit, RAW, Playboy, The New York Times and The Washington Post, amongst other publications.

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