Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Sam Berman's Dinosaur joke Book

The other night I was thumbing through an old favorite of mine, the Dinosaur Joke Book, so I decided to Google its author, Sam Berman. There's not really a whole lot out there about him--most prominently a Wikipedia article, and a splendid post on Drew Friedman's blog detailing Berman's career as a celebrity caricaturist in the '30s and '40s--so I thought I'd make a little contribution to the online repository of his work.

The Dinosaur Joke Book was published in 1969, and the printing I have is from 1974, so that must be when I acquired it (or rather, persuaded my Mom to acquire it for me). I gather from Drew's post that Berman's career was well in decline at that point, unfortunately. You'd never guess the art in the Joke Book was done by the same guy who made all those sophisticated, polished caricatures and illustrations back in his heyday. But oh man, these drawings just grab me every time! The scribbly, doodly linework is just right, and he made very good use of the two-tone printing process. The childlike proportions of his figures, and the comically exaggerated yet naturalistic critters, are reminiscent of the great T. S. Sullivant's approach to similar subject matter. The jokes are basically old groaners repurposed to a prehistoric milieu, which is just fine for a kids' book (and for simpletons like me). Overall the inhabitants of Berman's version of prehistory come off as a bunch of genial dimwits, which never fails to utterly charm me to this day. So off we go in the Sam Berman time machine (click to make 'em gigantosaurus)...

No comments:

Post a Comment