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Funny Books - Frazz - 99% Perspiration - Jef Mallett


99% Perspiration
A Frazz Collection
Jef Mallett
Andrews McMeel Publishing 2006
128 pages

Frazz rules! Frazz is my new all-time favorite comic strip.Frazz 99% Perspiration, the second collection by cartoonist Jef Mallett is a really great, funny, original, intelligent, thoughtful, sometimes erudite cartoon collection. The coolest thing about this Andrews McMeel (home of all the really good cartoon collections) publication is it is totally accessible to every age group and of interest to anyone who has a pulse.

If you took Calvin and Hobbes and concentrated the cartoon on Calvin, Suzie, and Miss Wormwood, used Lynn Johnston's gift for really human characters, and added a sprinkle of the offbeat humor of something like Close To Home, you would be close to what Frazz is like but still not have an idea of how different and original Frazz is. The title character is a janitor philosopher songwriter who works in an elementary school. The cartoon is about his daily interactions with the kids in the school, especially Caulfield, a student, Miss Jane Plainwell (on whom Frazz has a crush), the other kids, and the staff of the elementary school. Jef Mallett's Caulfield is a refreshing comic strip kid as he is too smart for his own good trouble-finder without being a smart mouth or cutesy (and if you think Holden Caulfield in grade school, you get bonus points).

Frazz is Caulfield's and the other kids' friend, advisor, and sometimes protector. He adroitly balances his duty to the school, being a responsible adult who must set an example with being a free spirit. He can be in league with both Mrs. Olsen, the history teacher, and the kids.

What I like most about 99% Perspiration, the second Frazz collection by Jef Mallett, is it does not dumb down its jokes, it does not assume readers have a sixth grade reading level (although sixth graders will read this cartoon and like it) and it is a positive, reader-friendly comic strip. It manages to entertain and make you think but you never really know which one it is doing most.

Favorite moments or lines in Frazz 99% Perspiration include Mr. Burke telling the main character he is one flake shy of a snow globe and the series of strips where Jef Mallett berates himself for wrongly attributing a quote to Einstein in a previous strip and yet playing games with the perspicacious readers who wrote him about it. If you like really bad puns, try this one: "Apple makes the Pomme Pilot"

Frazz 99% Perspiration will make a brilliant gift for anyone who likes an excellent cartoon collection. It will be an especially appropriate gift for teachers, janitors, and anyone who works in a school.

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