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Old-school cartoonist Noah Van Sciver gets summed up in ‘Youth is Wasted’

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Youth Is Wasted houses 15 stories ranging from one-page gags to long, literate works of young losers and heartbroken men.
J. Caleb Mozzocco

Four stars

Youth Is Wasted By Noah Van Sciver, AdHouse Books, $15.

The protagonist of one of Noah Van Sciver’s funniest strips is a successful 19th century cartoonist, blithely unaware that his field is at its apex. In the last panel, he declares, “I anticipate that by the year 2014, as distant as it may seem, a cartoonist will be as valued by his people as the king of that cocksucking British Empire!”

Ironically, Van Sciver himself is a decidedly old-school cartoonist, even if he’s not that old school. Though born in the 1980s, Van Sciver’s career has mainly consisted of works appearing in his own zine-turned-comic book Blammo, along with strips for various comics anthologies and alternative newspapers. Many cartoonists of his generation have eschewed such work for online comics and, if they’re lucky, graphic novels, the dominate form of expression in the medium today.

Van Sciver does have a graphic novel to his name, The Hypo, but fans will have a hard time finding anything to set on their bookshelf next to it. Enter AdHouse Books and Youth Is Wasted, collecting 15 stories ranging from one-page gags to long, literate works of young losers and heartbroken men trying to move on from various traumas.

It’s pretty great work that deserves to be appreciated and valued … but I don’t know that British royalty needs to start bowing to Van Sciver. Not yet, anyway.

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