Five Observations About Sam Henderson’s Newest Minis

Posted by on November 10th, 2010 at 5:16 AM

Rob jots down five observations about Sam Henderson’s newest minicomics collections of his single-panel gag work.

Sam Henderson continues to crank out minicomics collections of his gag works, with #6, #7 and #8 being titled How To Not Put Cats On Peoples’ Heads, That’s The Way It’s Been and You’re Not On The List. Despite the simplicity of Henderson’s line, he actually mines a number of different veins of humor.  Let’s look at five different cartoons from these collections.

1. Sometimes, it’s all about a funny image.  While the concept behind the strip is typically absurd, it’s the gleeful expressions of the adults, their funny hats and the slightly wary expression of the young boy that make this funny.  What makes it funnier is that the clarifying text (which the reader turns to after absorbing a nonsensical image) simply describes the image without offering up a real explanation as to: why goats?  why lamps?

2.  Unexpected vulgarity is funny.  The Founding Fathers grabbing their junk, making overtures about others’ mothers and generally behaving like fratboys (a Henderson specialty) is funny because the reader doesn’t associate this behavior with these figures.  The gag format is perfect because Henderson prevents himself from milking this idea too much.

3. The sheer absurdity of the non-sequitur has power.  Here, Henderson turns a sentimental thought (being made sad by certain objects) completely on its head with a random juxtaposition.  These gags fall closest to New Yorker-style strips in terms of scope, intent and obliqueness; it’s the closest Henderson gets to anti-humor.

4. An image juxtaposed against a familiar phrase is one of Henderson’s biggest comedic weapons.  Henderson has been experimenting with inanimate objects as the centers of his jokes, a change that has yielded some strong high-concept punchlines.  Henderson’s use of color is key to the punchline, but the fact that these are (potentially) racist pillows instead of people or even animals is why it’s funny.

5. When in doubt, throw the kitchen sink at the reader.  Henderson’s meta-humor strips that attempt to “explain” the humor of a strip are some of his best, and this one is no exception.  This one has unexpected vulgarity (“go fuck yourself” is the perfect punchline to this strip as an almost exasperated last gasp at dealing with a questioning reader), it has a funny image (Henderson’s toothy men), absurdity (“funny in some parts of Connecticut”), and clarifying text juxtaposed against an image that is absurd and subverts reader expectations.  As a bonus, the use of color in this strip is non-intuitive, further throwing the reader off-guard.  Hopefully someone, somewhere will collect the best of this recent round of strips on nice paper and in full color.

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One Response to “Five Observations About Sam Henderson’s Newest Minis”

  1. magicwhistle says:

    If anyone wants to order them, e-mail me at I don’t put my mailing address just because I keep everything in print. They’re all 16 pages for $2 each with color covers.