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HAMPLE, STUART - INSIDE WOODY ALLEN (1976) Random House. Also issued, as Non-Being and Somethingness the book is a compilation of collected cartoons from the comic strip Inside Woody Allen. Not a biography of the actor – comedian – film maker, but highlights from a hilarious syndicated cartoon strip about him which ran in The New Yorker and other US newspapers. Presented as a simple line drawing version of himself, Woody philosophises on life, sex, or rather, on his failure to get any, religion and just about everything. The Being & Somethingness title of some editions attests to the Jean Paul Sartrean influences on the strip, which Woody Allen approved of. Woody meets various eccentrics in the strip, lies on the couch of various psychiatrists and meets a woman who is drawn very similarly to Diana Keaton’s Annie Hall character in one of his more successful films, The cartoon character is essentially a manifestation of Woody’s established film personality, the neurotic, struggling Jewish Comedian who just keeps missing all the right breaks, and wise-cracks his way through every social catastrophe. You read it and virtually hear Woody speaking the lines. There is a timeless quality to the cartoons, which are still intelligent and very funny on re-reads. The strip went out of fashion as Allen’s film making lost its box office spark, and possibly due to controversies in his marriage to Mia Farrow, The strip has some terrific surrealist moments. In one strip, Woody writes down the entire 24-hour script from the speaking clock on his phone. He argues that if he now wants to know the time he just has to look in the book to save using watches or further phone calls.  The strip deserves its place in cartoon history alongside Dilbert and The Far Side. It’s a neglected classic.  http://www.woodyallen.com/misc/inside.html

 

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