“Me Likes You Very Much” by Lauren Barnett is 192 pages long and consistently very funny.
The book collects roughly four years of webcomics by Barnett, who got into blogging because her roommate was doing it. Five years and many gag comics later, her first graphic novel “Me Likes You Very Much” was just nominated for a 2012 Ignatz Award in the category of Promising New Talent.
Each page in her debut graphic novel offers a stand-alone comic ranging from one to six panels and features a rotating cast of birds, hot dogs, fruit and other anthropomorphized food or beasts. Each of these non-human characters play off of the others’ accusations and weaknesses, arriving at hilarious, often familiar sentiments, both pitiful and silly.
The book never breaks pace with its comedy or style and though 4+ years of work has gone into it, it’s almost impossible to mark time from start to finish if you look at the art. She stays true to her artistic choices from beginning to end.
The drawings are simple with pleasantly uncertain lines. Her characters are drawn without much sense of anatomy — even for a banana — and the word balloons are packed with sloppily written, rarely punctuated text. You might think to draw something like it yourself spontaneously on a napkin. It’s the kind of art and idea that floats off the top of your head without reason, but looks good enough to be captured, and should be.
Parts of “Me Likes You Very Much” appear in color and more than half of the comics appear in grayscale. Her colors are basically flat with some pops of marker for shading or extra color.
She does depart from her basic style on a few pages and these poster-style pages seem more personal than the rest of the work. They feature photo-referenced animals, drawn with somewhat labored detail, surrounded by feelings-affirming bubble text. In context, it feels like shouting.
I found the whole work to be really enjoyable. Barnett has a nice, easy comic voice. She takes a smart approach to her work, creating punchlines that lack the expected “WHOMP WHOMP” feel of most comedy webcomics. In that sense, it wasn’t predictable and I really felt taken for a ride, in a nice way.
Truly, I appreciate what she’s doing and I like that she’s kept doing it as well as she has for as long as she has been doing it. I’m sure she’s had to face down critics for her art, but I really respect her commitment to the style she’s created. The whole composition is working great, and it’s a pleasure to have so much of it collected in this one volume. She’s presenting smart comedic ideas that work.
You can find more of her comics regularly posted on her website Me Likes You and you can buy the book “Me Likes You Very Much” published by the self-styled “transcendental joke book” indie publisher and distributor Hic & Hoc Publications for $14 plus shipping from their online store.