Juxtaposition drives all comics, but it drives those of Brooklyn cartoonist Mark Newgarden a little differently than most. There isn’t much “sequential art” in We All Die Alone. There are, however, lots of sequential ideas, words and pictures that flow together to tell a disturbing joke or, more frequently, poke fun at the absurdity of using words and pictures to tell a disturbing joke.
We All Die Alone collects 20 years of Newgarden highlights from underground mags like RAW and alt-weeklies like the New York Press, and showcases an artist as playful as he is experimental. A self-described “graphic alchemist,” junk historian, and connoisseur of big noses, Newgarden repeatedly deconstructs the gag cartoon form, confronting and confounding his audience’s expectations. Newgarden’s avant-garde tendencies don’t always pay off—even the most receptive reader may not buy into the notion of a comic strip comprised entirely of toilet paper wrappers (or, for that matter, a dozen pages of comic strips comprised entirely of toilet paper wrappers). There’s an admirable chutzpah to his work, from the strip that simply reads “NOTHING FUNNY THIS WEEK” to the series of cartoons with hundreds of hilarious, context-free toss-offs (like Alphonso The Subtley Disturbing Hand Puppet). The title of one of Newgarden’s best pieces says it all: “Humor theorists crack me up!”