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CSBG Archive

The Comic Book Fools of April – Literature: Unsuccessfully Competing Against TV Since 1953

Every day in April I will be featuring a humorous comic (either an issue or a series of strips) that I found particularly amusing. Feel free to e-mail me at bcronin@comicbookresources.com the comic stories that are your favorites when it comes to hilarity, and I’ll see if I can’t feature some of them this month, as well!

Today we take a look at Dave Kellett’s hilarious (and Eisner Nominated, just like our pal Caanan Grall!) collection of all the literature-themed strips from his Sheldon comic strip, titled, amusingly enough, Literature: Unsuccessfully Competing Against TV Since 1953!

Sheldon is a comic about a boy who became a millionaire at age 10 (due to a software company he created). His best friend is a duck (that can talk due to software Sheldon programmed into him), his other best friend is just a normal kid who is up for any wacky adventure Sheldon wants to get into and Sheldon’s grandpa is Sheldon’s guardian.

It’s an endearing strip with a lot of good humor, and Kellett is a very good artist.

A recurring theme throughout the strip’s history has been jokes about literature. So Kellett decided to collect them all into one volume. This is that volume. It is a blast.

There are three general groups of jokes where Kellett derives humor from discussing literature.

One is discussing the amusing vagaries of the English language…

Another, and perhaps the most notable one (for this volume, at least) is telling jokes that work best if you’re familiar with the authors or the works being discussed…

Finally, a third is discussing the impact of reading and books upon “everyday” life, as they impact typical Sheldon strips (whereas the humor is derived from the way the characters respond to the books rather than the books themselves).

An offshoot, of sorts, of the third group is just general jokes about literature in “everyday” life, without necessarily depending on the Sheldon cast of characters.

It’s in that last category that Kellett makes an interesting decision to reprint some strips he had mocking Amazon’s Kindle. Reading in 2011 strips about how eBooks are just a fad…well, it reads kind of oddly.

Still, this is a very funny collection and it is PACKED with jokes! Every page has multiple gags in it, and if you’re really into literature, you’ll find a lot of sharp references you’ll really enjoy. And if you hate literature…well….what are you doing reading comic books, then?

Here is the site for Sheldon. You can read how to order a copy of Literature there (or any other Sheldon collection!).


Every one of those strips made me laugh. I particularly like the Moby Dick strip (my class on Melville was one of my favorite courses way back in the old days when I was getting my BA in English Literature at Columbia).

I’m always telling myself that I’m gonna reread Moby Dick after I finish the book I’m reading right now, and yet somehow I find myself going from Boneshaker by Cherie Priest to Werwolf Smackdown by Mario Acevedo to Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter by Seth Grahame-Smith to The Windup Girl by Paolo Bacigalupi… I’ve gotten pretty lazy in my reading as I’ve gotten older.

Thank you, Brian, for featuring this strip. I’ve definitely got to get a copy.

That Moby Dick strip is so true! I just recently read the book, and half the time I thought I was reading an encyclopedia on whaling.

That was really funny. I’ll have to check it out.

people dont really think shakespeare made up 1700 words right?

One of the best little nuggets of trivia about Moby Dick that most people aren’t aware of is there is an entire chapter about turning a whale’s penis into a robe. (Chapter 95 “The Cassock”)

I’m in the sticker industry, and that last panel is wholly accurate.

which is why I’m seeking another industry.

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