Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Blog to book?

Dilbert's creator blogs a book
Is this collection of Scott Adams' Internet musings worth killing tees for?
By Richard Pachter

Stick to Drawing Comics, Monkey Brain!: Cartoonist Ignores Helpful Advice. Scott Adams. Portfolio. 368 pages.

Scott Adams, whose newspaper comic strip, Dilbert, is wildly successful and popular, posts his thoughts — mostly text, not graphics — on his blog.

This is a compilation of some of those postings and as a book; it works, and it doesn't. I'll explain in a moment.

Several years back, I had a boss who sent e-mails and faxes to his friends, customers and fellow industryites every Friday of his musings on life and other matters. He intended to compile his work into a book, following the lead of an ad exec who'd done just that, turning his weekly client letters (which he only faxed in those pre-Internet days) into a book that sold fairly well.

When I left the company, the weekly letters stopped shortly thereafter, and I don't think there was ever a book. Just as well, I guess, since not every collection of short life lessons, observations and admonitions is worth killing trees for.

Collecting Scott Adams' blog postings into a book was a great idea — a no-brainer. I surely would have signed off on it if I'd been the publisher. As a reader, I'd also say "Go for it.''

And I enjoyed reading it, mostly in short spurts. For instance, early one morning as I waited to see if I'd been picked for a trial, after I'd been summoned for jury duty. Or while eating lunch at my desk. Or sitting in the smallest room of my house.

Adams is a funny writer, which you would expect from reading Dilbert. And he has witty and reliably irreverent takes on many aspects of life. He recently got married, and his interactions with his wife on the planning of the wedding are quite funny. In high demand as a speaker, Adams travels frequently, which also fuels his numerous observations on humanity, commerce, animals, machines, religion, politics and most every other aspect of life.

His take on business in general is also, as you'd imagine, quite funny. But his description of how he lost his voice due to a rare illness and miraculously got it back was nearly poignant, and could well have been unforgettably poignant if Adams had chosen to stretch out a bit. But maybe blog postings are not the ideal medium for such things, and if you buy and read a book by that mad comic genius behind Dilbert, then big yucks are expected.

So, Stick to Drawing Comics is fine if you are a Dilbert fan and don't read Adams' blog, or do read it and want to have a more permanent collection of his postings. But is it a ''book''? I don't know.

published 12/07 in The Miami Herald

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