Charles Peattie, half of the "Alex" team, sent me a copy of the strip's annual collection, which, first of all, I would say is an excellent idea.
Collecting your strips each year and publishing them as a book, that is.
But, yes, sending me a review copy is also an excellent idea, at least it is if your strip has been featured here as frequently as this one.
Alex is what I suppose you could call a hyper-niche comic, in that it is based on the world of business with a much sharper focus than "a bunch of people sitting around a boardroom table" gags.
Friend-of-the-Blog Brian Fies has observed that, while the first Star Trek iteration was based on Gene Roddenberry's experiences in the navy, with the Enterprise basically being a flying aircraft carrier, the sequels were based on writers who watched a lot of Star Trek, so that, as sequels piled up, the premise moved further away from that navy-in-space original concept and closer to a sort of watered-down self-parody.
I find this a good concept to apply not simply to sequels but to all sorts of overall genres, like cop shows and medical shows, and it certainly applies in the case of "Alex," because it's plain that these folks have served on that original sea-going ship and aren't just riffing on accepted, timeworn generalities.
That can make the humor a little obscure for readers who aren't at least halfway up the corporate chain, and the more because it is steadfastly British.
The first part doesn't matter. There is nothing wrong with catering to the business crowd, hence my designation of hyper-niche.
If you were doing gags for Golf Digest, you could do more focused gags than guys throwing their clubs into the water hazard, and, similarly, there's no reason a business magazine, or a business page, or any publication that would like to attract people who work without paper hats, should not welcome business gags that rely on the reader knowing something about the topic.
And I'd suggest that 30 years of successful cartooning proves the point.
The steadfastly British part can cause some obscurity on this side of the Atlantic, particularly with the emphasis on compliance laws that are much more stringent there than here. Though you can get by on this one, for instance, by simply accepting that they're a bit hidebound on that front.
The fact that most Americans wouldn't know England had been eliminated from the Rugby World Cup, or know the rugby term "try" or know the shape of a rugby ball or whether it's full of air or stuffed with feathers, on the other hand, might be a barrier.
And moreso in this case, though I don't know how many American retailers have installed these readers. Out here in the sticks, they've just begun to put in chip-readers, with little signs on them saying that you can't actually use your chip card yet.
But I see people doing this with their smartphones when they board planes, because having your cell phone in your hand is so much easier than having an actual boarding pass in your hand, so I get it.
And, while I only travel on business a few times a year, I sure know this feeling. My last several trips to Colorado have consisted of traveling from the airport to the convention center hotel and being squirreled away there for half a week until it's time to go back to the airport.
And, bless their hearts, my kids aren't a whole lot older than his. I distinctly remember the Great Switchover and, yes, I added some younger, hipper music at the time, none of which I played for more than a few weeks.
And one which you don't have to be British to appreciate, though of course they do sleep on the other side of the bed.
I would add that some types of strips work better a day at a time than they do in collections: Reading them one after another dulls the impact.
Alex, however, like Doonesbury or Stone Soup, has enough ongoing continuity that the collections are even a bit more fun to read than on their original daily schedule, almost like a graphic novel, but with more laughs.
Good stuff and highly recommended. If you want to score a copy, go here.
He's baaaaack ...
If you'd been following Richard John Marcej's longstanding graphic journal, the Blabbing Baboon, you may have given up after several months of frustrating unemployment followed by several more months of silence.
Well, he's starting things up again and I'm looking forward to finding out what he's been doing.
Besides growing a beard.
Today's Moment of Zen is Dedicated to Alex Masterley:
I'm quite sure Alex fancied himself a Mod in his day. To the extent the poor sod had a day at all.