3 out of 4 stars
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101 Things to Do with a Dead Body is a non-fiction collection of funny cartoons by Jason Blake and Emily Caesar. It turns a normally sad subject, dead bodies, into a cause for “reuse and recycle.” Each black-and-white sketch is labelled with another constructive use for a dead body, such as a surfboard, a speed bump, and a dartboard. In the same vein as the 1989 film Weekend at Bernie’s, a dead body can come in handy when the need arises for a person to be present at a meeting, dinner party, etc. I mean, no live person in their right mind wants to sit next to your crazy, drunk uncle at Thanksgiving dinner.
As you may have guessed, this book is a quick, humorous read. It is basically all artwork and no story, although there are lessons to be learned in the latter sections. Since each cartoon is a standalone based on the main theme, the pages don’t have to be read in any order. As such, the book is a good choice to read while in a doctor’s waiting room or parked in a school carpool line.
The concept is very inventive, but I expected a bit more to the book besides a short title for each sketch. It would have been more interesting if an intriguing remark had been included with each sketch, in the style of The New Yorker magazine’s cartoons. In a few instances, there is a comment in the form of a speech bubble, but nothing too thought-provoking. Also, the text inside the speech bubbles is so tiny that it is almost unreadable.
Many of the uses make practical sense. A crime might be prevented if there is a person seen through the window while you’re away on vacation or if an extra security guard is visible at the mall. However, the concept of using a dead body as a casket model is positively cringeworthy. Can you imagine a bereaved family member being shown a casket with a person inside, dead or alive? Even within the boundaries of dark humor, some visuals cross the line into bad taste. On the other hand, the cartoon about leaving a dead body on your ex’s doorstep (instead of a bag of dog poo) is hilarious.
I rate this book 3 out of 4 stars. It is an entertaining read with quite a few creative ways to “recycle” a dead body. I would recommend the book to fans of bathroom-style humor and silly hijinks. The book is ultimately uplifting, although that depends on your sense of humor. I can’t say you will learn anything of great educational value. Still, laughter is supposed to be the best medicine, so there is great value in that.
101 Things To Do with a Dead Body
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