Review by Woodrow Phoenix
My New Filing Technique is Unstoppable sprang from the same source as its companion title My New Fighting Technique is Unstoppable: the world of utter boredom that David Rees was trapped in while working an office temp job. He began mocking the corporate culture of business jargon, charts, endless powerpoint seminars and meaningless productivity demos by taking 1980s clip-art of hardworking businesspeople used to make images for presentations, ads and reports, and putting them into comic strips with his own ridiculous dialogue added. He faxed the strips to his friends, who faxed them to their friends and MNFTIU eventually grew into a webcomic that became an internet juggernaut receiving millions of hits.
Rees’ glee in making these starchy, clean-cut and anonymous totems of wholesome corporate life into bewildered, venal, manic and utterly profane sadsacks trapped in a world of nonsense is infectiously funny. The more you read of these blissfully stupid comics, the funnier they get, as the various mysterious and crushingly pointless aspects of office routine turn into one-dimensional running gags which escalate to ever more absurd heights. There are no defined characters and the protagonists rarely have names. They don’t need them, it’s all just abstractions and sarcastic jokes, and in a way the interchangeability of the actors is the point.
“These numbers aren’t adding up! Something is fucked!” says a man sitting at a desk covered in piles of paper. “What do you mean the numbers aren’t adding up?” a man in shirtsleeves says. “We pay you to make sure the fucking numbers are adding up! Maybe YOU aren’t adding up!” The depressed man stands alone while his co-workers gather near a timeclock. “It doesn’t matter what I say! People always think it’s my fault when the numbers aren’t adding up!” The depressed man is back at his desk, and the piles of paper are now towering over him. “GODDAMN STUPID FUCKING NUMBERS! Why aren’t they adding up?”
Rees took the straightfaced profanity of this strip and applied the same techniques to the deadly serious Get Your War On where that same disjunct between what the characters look like and what they are saying became astonishingly potent, applied to matters of actual life and death. My New Filing Technique is Unstoppable is obviously nowhere in the same neighbourhood for relevance; there are no politics, no real-world issues, nothing but mockery and cursewords, which is exactly what makes it so enjoyable. A tiny selection of the original comics is still available to read at Rees’ website if you want to check what you’re getting into before you pick up this collection.