Review by Karl Verhoven
Kyle Baker has never been an artist who lets himself become pigeonholed, but surely no-one expected him to start issuing volumes of Reader’s Digest style domestic comedy snippets. Then again, Baker rapidly developed a reputation for being commercially astute, and even in his younger days when perhaps that wasn’t the case he grasped his opportunities.
There’s some fantastic cartooning here, and the opening pages set the tone. The first is titled ‘Anatomy of a Mommy’ and depicts a haggard Mrs Baker loaded down with all kinds of required accoutrements for young children, each labelled. Turn the page and there’s ‘Anatomy of a Daddy’, with a smiling Baker holding a credit card labelled “They sell everything else”. Further on there’s ‘Smooth Daddy’, a compact two panel masterpiece reproduced as the sample illustration. We’ve all been there. That’s actually one of the few strips with word balloons, whereas most are wordless.
Over the following 90 pages we have a couple of dozen equally astute, acerbic and hilarious glimpses into the daily trials comprising life with young children, ranging from the inventive method of replacing a lost tooth to the commonplace tear-prevention lies every parent tells. It’s the illustrated form of the anecdotes every family has, but delivered with a virtuoso sense of timing in the telling. This isn’t all straight cartoons, though. We have a diversion into ‘Master Ike’s Toddler Self-Defence’, illustrated as if a martial-arts manual, and self-help pages advertising a device repeating the only two phrases a father ever needs.
Do Those Toys Belong Somewhere is a quick read, but this is quality material. Some might be familiar to those who’ve picked up the Kyle Baker Cartoonist gag collections, but those cartoons are now in colour, and the same gags look far better given Baker’s superb palette. As of writing, the entire content could be viewed for free on Baker’s website, along with animations of some strips, but if the topic appeals surely you want to hold the book between your palms. Having said that, the cover price of $18.95 for 96 pages is hefty.
A second collection titled Babies and Kittens followed.