David Rees Reading at Powell's City of Books, 1005 W Burnside, Wed Dec 11, 7:30 pm

(Basic Books)

David Rees' comic strip, Get Your War On, was originally e-mailed to a group of friends. His friends liked it so much, they e-mailed it to their friends, who in turn e-mailed it to 20 million people (or something like that). Rees began posting the strip on his website and regularly writing new installments. He got a varied response, and a decent amount of national press, including a spot in the New York Times.

Each strip contains clip art figures in a mundane office scene. They remain frozen in each frame, a la Red Meat. The men and women, grotesque caricatures of "typical" Americans, spew ridiculous statements that are a mixture of profanity, government issued catchphrases ("War on Terror," "Operation: Enduring Freedom," etc.) and colloquialisms. The best exchange is between two workers over suicide bombers:

WORKER A: Nothing could get me to suicide-bomb myself. I don't even know how to construct the fucking active verb form of that shit it's so fucked!

WORKER B: Would you suicide-bomb yourself if it would also kill Osama Bin Laden?

WORKER A: Hell no! The whole point of killing Osama Bin Laden is that it increases my chances of staying alive!

Reading through the print version, you can imagine how entertaining these strips must have been when they were periodically posted on a random website; how much more biting and daring they must have seemed when they coincided with the events they address. You can almost feel the spontaneous energy that must have existed. But print publication is a whole other beast from web publication, and what sounds spontaneous on the web can come across as lazy in print. The defiance of the comics' tone is dulled when read in succession. However, there's still a very good reason you should go out and buy this book as opposed to looking at the strips online (which you're still able to do): Rees is donating all his royalties from the book to a mine detection team in Western Afghanistan, and has arranged for the publisher to donate a portion of their proceeds as well. And that's pretty motherfucking cool. M. WILLIAM HELFRICH