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Josh Bauman, the propagator of the webcomic Caffeinated Toothpaste, sent me the first volume of his comic recently, so if you’re one of those old-timers (like me) who prefers to read books instead of on the screen, you can check it all out here!
Bauman is a cartoonist living in Germany, and this gives his comic an odd, culture-clash vibe without being very overt about it – every once in a while we’re reminded that he’s an American in a foreign land, which is kind of neat. In the course of this volume, he visits the States and gets married (the wedding photograph is a highlight of the book) and works on his comics. This diary is often oddly surreal, as Bauman tries to encapsulate his experience in four panels. That’s hard to do, and it leads to some nice bizarre strips – not necessarily humorous, but definitely odd. Some of the strips are very funny, too – they’re obviously set up as jokes, and Bauman has some good comic timing, so they work.
I’m not a huge fan of Bauman’s artwork – he does some nice work here and there, but it’s also somewhat rough, with stiff figure work and flat perspective. One place he really shines in with the characters’ faces, his own especially. In a comic like this, where the reactions often help tell the story, if you don’t do a good job with the faces, your words aren’t going to be enough to convey the tone of the strip, so I’m happy that Bauman does well with it. I can forgive the roughness of the art quite a bit because the faces help tell the story so well.
As with a lot of web strips that don’t tell a long-form story, I’m just going to scan a few examples and let you decide for yourself whether Caffeinated Toothpaste is for you. Sound good?
The first volume is 13 dollars, if you’re interested. Or just read along on-line! How easy is that?
Comics Should Be Good accepts review copies. Anything sent to us will (for better or for worse) end up reviewed on the blog. See where to send the review copies.