Category Archives: Humor

Darth Vader and Friends by Brown

darthvaderStar Wars and satire fans rejoice! Like the amazing William Shakespeare’s Star Wars books, here is another book in a series that takes what we love and pokes fun at it in a way that is never hurtful, but always hilarious.

Darth Vader and Friends
Star Wars
by Jeffrey Brown
Chronicle Books
April 2015

This collection of comics runs the gamut of “awww” (like Lando, Leah, Han and Luke sitting together watching the suns set, saying, “I’ve got a good feeling about this!”) to the silly (ghosts Yoda and Obi Wan telling Darth Vader, “Look Anakin. If you want to hang out with us you’re gonna have to take off the helmet.) Most of the comics are from the perspective of the kids and they do childish things (drawing all over attack maps, etc). Some take favorite phrases from the original trilogy and flip them on their head through the mouths of children.

This is a whimsical, easy read that makes for a perfect gift book for fans of either humor or Star Wars.


@ashertopia is the Managing Editor of BookGateway.com. He is an avid reader and a lifetime learner. His favorite genres include science fiction, fantasy, as well as theology and Christian living. His personal blog is AshertopiA – a land flowing with milk and honey… and a lot of sticky people.

This book was provided by the publisher as a review copy.

Devastator #11: Otaku

otakuSNL meets Mad Magazine but the sensibilities of Family Guy and TED takes on Japanese manga.

Otaku
Devastator #11
Devastator Press
September 2014

The gags go on and on and come in a ton of different guises. There are joke ads (like Joe Lo Truglio, of Brooklyn 99 fame, in PillowMingle.love, where he, ahem, meets his pillow match), written transcripts (like Phoenix Wright’s Asinine Attorney court case), manga parodies (Sailor Moon, etc), and a lot more. To truly enjoy the parodies one would need to be very familiar with the original content. Speed Racer’s suicide dictation (after he determines that he can no longer stand Americans putting words in his mouth – dubbing) make so much sense for fans of dubbed Japanese cartoons.

What you need to know upfront is that there are really funny parts of this book. But this is definitely for those who enjoy potty humor. This is not a “clean” book. So those who mind harsh language may want to pass on this. But if you can stomach it and you love manga this will be really funny distraction. In my opinion, while there are very funny parodies there are too many jokes that end, basically and literally, with an F bomb. While a shocking expletive can be a funny way to end a joke it shouldn’t be the main way. Shock really only works once or twice. After that it can be very ho-hum.

This is the 11th Devastator published on different topics. Even with some of the flat jokes (no pillow pun intended) I still eagerly checked out the other topics and would have read them with gusto. (Who wouldn’t read parodies of the Apocalypse or Toys and Games?) So there is that.


@ashertopia is the Managing Editor of BookGateway.com. He is an avid reader and a lifetime learner. His favorite genres include science fiction, fantasy, as well as theology and Christian living. His personal blog is AshertopiA – a land flowing with milk and honey… and a lot of sticky people.

This book was provided by the publisher as a review copy.

Tic-Tac-Tome by Yonkers

tic-tac-tomeA book that can beat you at Tic-Tac-Toe? That’s what the author says anyway. If the book is really that good, I must be the best Tic-Tac-Toe player ever.

Tic Tac Tome
The Autonomous Tic Tac Toe Playing Book
By Willy Yonkers
Quirk Books
June 2014

This is a massive book. About 3-4 inches thick (and only 4×4 in size) with like a thousand pages. What’s interesting is that this could be an app with maybe 40-50 kb worth of data. It’s big but really simple. You choose where you want to place your mark (O or X) and turn to the designated page. On that page you’ll see your mark and also the book’s next move. Repeat. Repeat. Cat’s game. Pretty much every time.

That’s the bummer thing about this book (and this game): once you recognize the gambits of the other player you really can’t lose. And neither can they. So this game is really for newbies and kids. As such, so is this book. I had my 7 year old play it and he figured out how to Cat’s pretty quickly. My 12 year old never lost. Two adults who “played” the book also never lost. In fact, I never saw anyone actually get beat by the game.

This is a gift book with limited interest. Fun for a moment.

NOTE: In case you see a different book of the same name by Ty Liotta, this is actually a reprint with Quirkbooks from the 2011 ThinkGeek version that has been out of print.


@ashertopia is the Managing Editor of BookGateway.com. He is an avid reader and a lifetime learner. His favorite genres include science fiction, fantasy, as well as theology and Christian living. His personal blog is AshertopiA – a land flowing with milk and honey… and a lot of sticky people.

This book was provided by the publisher as a review copy.

The Brick Bible by Brendan Powell Smith

coverIt seems like publishers don’t need much of a reason to print new Bibles with even the slightest deviation of theme. The Men’s Bible, NIV Men’s Devotional Bible, MANual: the Bible for Men, Every Man’s Bible NIV, Every Man’s Bible NLT, Every Man’s Bible (NIV or NLT): Deluxe Explorer’s Edition, Quiet Strength Bible: Men’s Bible Study – those are all real and they are only the very first page of “Men’s Bibles” on Amazon. When will we see something truly different? Enter Brendan Powell Smith and The Brick Bible. But is it a Bible?

The Brick Bible: The Complete Set
By Brendan Powell Smith
Skyhorse Publishing
October 2013

CainandableIn this version, which collects both the Old and New Testaments, the artist/writer of the Brick Bible Brendan Powell Smith created and shot over 2000 different scenes from the Bible’s main stories. It is clear from the start that these are not photos for children. The violence, sexuality and nudity that exists in the Bible is on naked display in the depictions. (Brendan Powell Smith did create some children’s books that avoid some of the messier elements, like Jonah, Daniel, Noah’s Ark, the Christmas Story and such.)

The fact that every scene pictured is built, one brick at a time, is the real joy and accomplishment of this book. It is pure genius! Even seeing how Brendan Powell Smith overcomes issues like height (Saul has a 2×1 white square as his robe then 1×1 flat yellow rounds for legs to make him taller than everyone else, for instance), or outstretched arms (he has connected arms out of socket sideways to have them straight out), are very clever. Further effects with focus and perspective make almost every picture an achievement in itself.

Tdavidhe Old and New Testament have most of their major stories and some minor ones that seem to fit Brendan Powell Smith’s design (see below). You will see a ton of New Testament space spent on Jesus and Revelation, with little time spent on the Epistles, which makes sense since they aren’t visual stories but didactic letters. Understanding the difference in the type of literature of the Bible helps understand why he would or wouldn’t have photos. But in some cases, where there are visual portrayals of certain kinds of literature, specifically apocalyptic, the scenes are very literally envisioned. And in other situations that require interpretation skills, the author relies on English 21st century understanding of words rather than what the words meant originally.

JonathanThe violence and nudity that really help to bring even more distinction to this version of the Bible. So often these are glossed over. Stories about David taking out Goliath, for instance, usually ends with the stone killing Goliath. We gloss over the fact that David then chopped off Goliath’s head like a trophy. When stories in the Bible tell of murder and war, the Brick Bible takes, what looks a lot like, “glee” in telling them in gory, clear red brick building glory. While this is jarring at times it also makes real some of the parts of the Bible that we skip past when reading.

HeavenWhile I enjoyed the honesty in the violence, I didn’t enjoy some of the commentary in the pictures. At times the fact that this is satire is very clear and real. Picture and headings says more about Brendan Powell Smith’s opinions on the subjects he is depicting than allowing proper Biblical interpretation to take place. Instead of exegesis, many times there is simply a very wooden literal reading of the English which is infused with the current meanings and interpretations. For instance, there is no evidence and it is not implied in the original languages or in 2500 to 3000 years of orthodox belief that Jonathan loved David in an erotic way. But in the depictions of their interactions it is clearly set up as a homosexual relationship. Hearts floating above Jonathan’s head – like a teenager with a crush – and when David greeted Jonathan with a kiss it is on the lips rather than what the Bible is saying. Jonathan did love David and pledged his life to him. And in that culture a kiss in greeting was much more akin to what we see in foreign films – a sign of respect. Not an erotic thing. Likewise, headings titled “Genocide” instead of “Judgment” also clearly show Brendan Powell Smith’s wooden literal and bias.

lastsupperI have a ton of respect for what Brendan Powell Smith has done here with Legos and art. I’ve read that he is an atheist and I think that bias comes out in ways that will offend sincere believers – many prospective buyers and readers may be turned off by his choices in what to include and how to irreverantly depict them. Interestingly, in reviewing Brendan Powell Smith’s online site (http://www.bricktestament.com/home.html) you will find some pictures online were redacted or cropped from the published books. I noticed this with scenes that I was concerned with above, where commentary steps the story a little further from orthodox acceptance. If he or the publisher were aware of the possibility of offense and so removed from publication certain scenes it seems like they should have considered what scenes should perhaps have been removed from both. After all, the primary audience of a book about the Bible should be Christians who love creativity and art and also God. But with a focus on satire, and by allowing his bias to color what he selected to depict in such an overt way, it overshadows evertything else and we end up losing some of the primary audience for the much, much smaller satire audience. I’m not sure that was very wise.

JesusEven with the satirical commentary, this is a genius book. It is not Christians who may be offended by visual depictions of some of the seedier stories in the Bible or who may be offended by the way that the author treats a reverant subject in such an irreverant way at times. It is also not for children. But it is for art loving people who enjoy creativity and brilliant photography. It is also for lovers of Lego and the amazing things that toy/tool allows us to do with it. With all my concerns listed I would stistill recommend it to those audiences for this amazing achievement.

To answer the question posed at the start of this review: this is not a Bible. It is a work of art. As long as we think of it like this we may be more inclined to enjoy it for what it is rather than what we believers would want it to be.


@ashertopia is the Managing Editor of BookGateway.com. He is an avid reader and a lifetime learner. His favorite genres include science fiction, fantasy, as well as theology and Christian living. His personal blog is AshertopiA – a land flowing with milk and honey… and a lot of sticky people.

This book was provided by the publisher as a review copy.

The Facebook Diet by Adams

You know you’re a Facebook addict when a book about Facebook addiction catches your eye. Yes, you.

The Facebook Diet
by Gemini Adams
Live Consciously
May 2013

This hilarious gift book features 50 full color cartoons from talented artist Gemina Adams who uses understated, simple illustrations to point out the truth of modern society’s online addictions. The illustrations will have you laughing out loud recognzing yourself in the work! We all know this stuff, but recognizing it is wild fun.

Consider some of my favorites, like the one where a man wrote (in paint) on the wall of their friend’s house and asked if they saw what he had written on their wall today. Or an illustration that says, “Nothing seems real until you post it…”

(Note that some of the art and language, including the one above, while rare, include depictions of nudity, sexual relations, and some language. If that is something you are sensitive to, then you should be aware of it. In total, there are perhaps 5 of the 50 illustrations that could offend.)

The book also includes over 20 pages of ideas on how to detox, including facetious ideas, like, “Get sent to jail” to politically charged (and accurate) options, like, “If all else fails… move to China!” An appropriate dessert to the illustrated main course.

If you are a Facebook addict or know one this book will make a great gift for those who enjoy art and humor. If Facebook isn’t your addiction, Live Consiously also has Twitter, You Tube and Instagram Diet books coming out next year.


Scott Asher is the Editor-in-Chief of BookGateway.com. His personal blog is AshertopiA – a land flowing with milk and honey… and a lot of sticky people where he turns real life into stupid cartoons, writes on Christianity, Zombies, and whatever else he wants and posts Bible studies from his classes at church.

This book was provided by the publisher as a review copy.

The Internet is a Playground by David Thorne

The Internet is a Playground is a compendium of nearly every post so far – and all of the best posts – from Thorne’s website 27bslash6.com. This collection of hilarious posts cover a wide range of topics from his son attending a school sponsored religious meeting to paying for an overdue bill with a drawing of a spider. Nearly all of them hit the mark and are literally laugh out loud funny: his wit really is unparallelled in Cyberspace and I found numerous times that not only was I laughing too hard to breathe but those I shared the stories with soon found themselves in the same position. (NOTE: It is amazing how nice the customer service representatives are in the book. It certainly isn’t American customer service depicted!)

The Internet is a Playground
by David Thorne
Tarcher
May 2011

Inevitably, there are some that I didn’t find funny, like the posts about monkeys and Lucius landed a little flat. In fact, it seems like many of the things I didn’t enjoy so much were the so-called new content, not available online. Not a big surprise as if they were that great they would probably have been published online already. Also, some stories are hilarious but you may find yourself saying, “I really ought not think that’s funny as it is so very [mean spirited / offensive / fill in the blank].” It should go without saying that very conservative people should not pick up this book unless they are looking for something to be mad about. (We all need motivation sometimes.)

This book is everything that is wrong with the internet. Not because David Thorne probably is an evil genius (he is). Not because the chapters in this book aren’t seriously hilarious (they are). But because you can get most of the best content from this book for free online, which means that aside from fans, those who don’t have laptops/ netbooks/ tablets/ smartphones and are too lazy to carry a book and those who are unaware of the website this book may be an unnecessary expense. And that is what is wrong with the internet: it makes publishing some books almost irrelevant when they really ought not be.

Thorne’s book, because most of it is available for free online, is less of a must buy than a “you really should at the very least read this guy” type book. As for me, I enjoyed the book immensely and will continue to watch for new posts at 27bslash6 to see what new trouble this online evil genius can make.


Scott Asher is the founder and administrator of BookGateway.com. Along with his contributions to BookGateway, he reviews for the commercial site BuddyHollywood.com. His personal blog is AshertopiA – a land flowing with milk and honey… and a lot of sticky people where he cartoons and writes on current events and Christianity.

This book was provided by the publisher as a review copy.

The Almost True Story of Ryan Fisher by Rob Stennett

Ryan Fisher is a real estate agent who needs a boost in sales. The agnostic Fisher decides to take out an add in the local Christian directory with the Ichthus symbol, the Christian fish we see on cars and signs, prominently displayed and immediately sees results.

The Almost True Story of Ryan Fisher
by Rob Stennett
Zondervan
2008

Wanting even more results, he and his wife decide to attend church to mingle with prospective buyers to keep up his new image as a “believer.” Recognizing the opportunity of the Christian market – and the money to be made there – Fisher and his wife relocate to Oklahoma to plant a church. A mega church.

Fisher creates a history for his new mega church pastor image, including seminary and prior pastorates, and sets to work creating his mega church. He hires a local songwriter (who puts Christian lyrics to popular songs) and a band, rents a carnival, and prepares his sermons all without input from God, Jesus or the Bible. His (what some Christians may call) seeker-sensitive style catches on and soon his popularity far surpasses even his wildest dreams. But the limelight is also a spotlight and his false past is quickly catching up to him as the local pastors, the media and concerned churchgoers all begin to take a closer look at the new superstar pastor. Oh, and there is his wife’s growing infatuation with his worship leader.

I won’t spoil the story for you, but suffice it to say it doesn’t end up how most Christian books do. Stennett takes Fisher on a ride that isn’t just almost true, but unfortunately, mostly true and also true a lot. And it never ends well.

Fisher, while not based on any individual, is reminiscent of many preachers today who seem to be after growth and monetary gain instead of spiritual truth. What I loved – and simultaneously hated – was that Fisher’s journey speaks to how gullible Christians can be and how wolf-like preachers can be. (Notice I said “preachers” not “pastors,” which are worlds apart sometimes and especially in this case.) Stennett’s book is a social commentary on how true Christianity is easily usurped by a slick presentation and feel good sermons and how Biblically illiterate believers can have a tough time knowing the difference.

The book is engrossing and engaging; I couldn’t put it down. Not only was it a spot on commentary, but also a hilarious (at times) satire. (See Fisher’s early attempts to be “Christian,” for example.) I recommend it highly for Christians who are interested in a good book with an excellent warning.


Scott Asher is the founder and administrator of BookGateway.com. Along with his contributions to BookGateway, he reviews for the commercial site BuddyHollywood.com. His personal blog is AshertopiA – a land flowing with milk and honey… and a lot of sticky people where he cartoons and writes on current events and Christianity.