‘The Complete Collection of the Tragedy Series’ by Benjamin Dewey
I really don’t know where to begin with Benjamin Dewey’s marvelous The Complete Collection of the Tragedy Series: secret lobster claws and other misfortunes. Indeed, what could I possibly say that is not already in the title?
I could begin by praising the aesthetics and artistic stylings of the book, a graphic novel of sorts with a theme of misfortune rather than a unifying narrative. But, as good as Dewey’s illustrations are (for he not only wrote, but also illustrated this delightful tome), they aren’t what strikes you most about it.
I could also start off by explaining my delight at the steampunkish Victorian era Dewey presents in the book. Tragedy Series doesn’t place itself anywhere in particular, other than as the direct descendent of Lovecraft and possibly Verne. But, as pleasing as the undefined time period is, that again is not what draws one into the book.
So I can only begin in one place: with the humor. Tragedy Series, in addition to looking amazing and transporting you to some Other time and place, features a sensability that is dark and Edward Goreyish and grim and hilarious all at the same time. Dewey’s sense of misery juxtaposed with the random and hilarious is the unqualified best part of an all-around great book.
As just one example (and I literally opened a page at random to find this one — you can do go through this book utterly without rhyme or reason and find a laugh/moan on every single page): “Tragedy #293: Gifted girl can hear the plants talk and they are unrelentingly boring.” Or, “Tragedy #160: The impenetrable fortress denies access to all, including fun times and care pacakges.” Or, “Tragedy #392: Laundry pile achieves sentience shortly before being drowned.”
I could easily go on, but you should really just run out and get The Complete Collection of the Tragedy Series as fast as humanly possible. It’s sad and random and funny and plain old-fashioned good. If you’re ever feeling even slightly blue, crack it open to a random page and you’ll be given a smile.