September 22, 2003
"Even Grues Get Full":The Columbia Internet Gang Returns in the Fourth Compilation of User Friendly
Sebastopol, CA--"As an old great one," says Cthulhu (who is, of course,
the monstrous entity who lies "dead but dreaming" in the city of R'lyeh
until one day when he will return and lay waste to the world), "I have
the advantage of perceiving the structure of the universe. I can see
what is focal, and what is peripheral. And I am here to tell you what
it is that really matters. In one word: cartoonists."
Readers of the fourth collection of User Friendly comics, Even Grues
Get Full (O'Reilly, US $12.95) by J.D. "Illiad" Frazer may be inclined
to agree. Often overwhelmed by coding how-to-books, user manuals, and
hardware reviews--not to mention job security concerns--thousands of
tech types find daily refuge in the User Friendly strip. User Friendly
is packed with references to geek interests, from obscure movies to old
computer games, yet even non-geeks are able to enjoy the story lines
and character quirks, from Erwin's acerbic humor to Miranda's constant
angst; from the Smiling Man's Machiavellian machinations to A.J.'s
dysfunctional naivete. Frolicking at the center of it all is the Dust
Puppy, the strip's gentle-hearted mascot who has endeared himself to
Readers of all sorts will enjoy the hilarious antics of Columbia
Internet characters in this latest compilation, as Stef contends with a
giant tequila worm, Mike is tormented by Mr. Cola, Cthulhu returns
feeling antsy after eons of deep sleep, and the techs move their shop
into a maze of twisty passages all alike deep inside a missile silo.
But even this friendly haven from real-world geek concerns brings
caveats of its own. As Wil Wheaton cautions in his foreword to the
book, "When your beloved wife just wants to go to sleep, it is the
absolute worst time to explain Cthulhu saying, 'You like that? So?
What's my name? Say my name, Mortal!' is so damn funny." His advice?
Enjoy the book. Just don't read it in bed while your wife is trying to
Called "Dilbert for Geeks" by Wired magazine and considered to be one
of the few consistently intelligent and socially aware cartoons on the
Net, User Friendly remains one of the most popular destinations for
geeks and non-geeks alike. "Even Grues Get Full" will be a sure hit
with anyone who works with computers or for anyone who lives with
someone who works with computers.
Praise for the previous edition:
"The tech world is a strange place. Who says it can't be funny too?
Scott Adams' popular Dilbert comic strip has proven that there is a
wealth of humor to be mined from technology and techies alike. But for
many techies, Dilbert and its kin only scratch the surface, dealing as
much with office politics as with the life of techies. The User
Friendly comic strip goes deeper...the Doonesbury for techies. The
drawing style is crude--Illiad is no Michelangelo--but the jokes are
good and often clever, and besides, I'd much rather read a cartoon that
is genuinely inventive and amusing than well-drawn. Give me User
Friendly over Family Circus or Cathy any day. 'Root of All Evil' is
pretty much guaranteed to bring a smile to any techie-types you might
--Keith Schengili-Roberts, Computer Paper, April 2002
"...side-splittingly funny,...a breath of originality, guaranteed
hilarious, and absolutely, positively, not to be missed. Highly,
wholeheartedly, enthusiastically recommended."
--James Cox, Midwest Book Review, November 2001
Additional reviews of the previous edition
Even Grues Get Full
ISBN 0-596-00566-0, 123 pages, $12.95 US, $20.95 CA, 8.95 UK
O'Reilly Media spreads the knowledge of innovators through its books, online services, magazines, and conferences. Since 1978, O'Reilly Media has been a chronicler and catalyst of cutting-edge development, homing in on the technology trends that really matter and spurring their adoption by amplifying "faint signals" from the alpha geeks who are creating the future. An active participant in the technology community, the company has a long history of advocacy, meme-making, and evangelism.
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