Töpffer, R., & Crayon, T. (2014). The adventures of Mr. Obadiah Oldbuck: Done with drawings by Timothy Crayon, gypsographer, 188 comic etchings on antimony. Place of publication not identified: Leopold Editions.
#1 in 1001 Comics to Read Before You Die
Mr. Oldbuck is in love.
He seeks to conquer his passion in study
The plot is the continuing exploits of Mr. Obadiah Oldbuck including falling in love, courting his love, being ignored, becoming a monk and attempting suicide multiple times.
Mr. Oldbuck, in despair, commits suicide. Fortunately, the sword passes below his arm.
For eight-and-forty hours he believes himself dead.
He returns to life dying of hunger.
Although the book summary of this work sounds like a downer, it isn’t at all. This book is pure satire much in the same vein as Candide by Voltaire. Candide is described as, “Never has rape, mutilation, murder, amputations, public burnings and cannibalism been as funny as this!”
Although it is never said directly, stylistically Töpffer works seem to draw much from Candide. It has a very similar flow, hopping from one utterly absurd situation to another one.
Töpffer is considered to be the father of modern comics, he utilized the use of paneled pictures and words independent of images, which hadn’t been seen before his first publication. Additionally, he influenced many up and coming artists and illustrators who then wrote great works expanding the fledgling genre.
Plus, it is funny as hell. The absurdity of Mr. Oldbucks plights are self-caused, and the reader basks in schadenfreude while reading it.
This book might not be for everyone, but it should definitely be read by comic enthusiasts and anyone reading the genre hoping to get some history of how it founded. It is funny and short and well done graphically. If you are interested in reading it, the Dartmouth Library has digitized one of the few remaining copies of it. You can read it for free. However, if you are the purchasing type, you can buy a copy of it if you can find one for sale, anywhere from 10,000 for an FR copy to 20,000 for a VF copy.