Book Review: The Ultimate Droodles Compendium by Roger Price

The Ultimate Droodles Compendium by Roger Price. Tallfellow Press, 2019. 9781931290692. 280pp. Includes a forward by Leonard Maltin, an essay by Price from an earlier book, footnotes to make some of the more obscure (dated) references in the drawings comprehensible, sketches/notes from Prices’s secret files, a primer on how to make your own Droodles + a short biography of Price.

These simple, single panel gag comics by comedian Roger Price were popular in the ’50s and ’60s, and were republished earlier this year as a bit of dad humor just in time for Father’s Day. You may not be able to trust me on this review — I am, after all, a dad.

Each Droodle is a simple black and white drawing that can only be interpreted in the context of its caption (or its alternate caption, and/or its commentary). If you’ve seen Frank Zappa’s 1982 album Ship Arriving Too Late To Save A Drowning Witch, you’ve seen a Droodle. My favorites include Naughty French Postcard (15), Deep Sea Diver With Hiccups (25), Tomato Sandwich Made By Amateur Tomato Sandwich Maker (40), and Unassembled Sandpaper (87).

Price is my favorite kind of cartoonist — someone who is better at coming up with ideas than he is at drawing. Though I’m not in his league, he gives me hope. Sometimes he drew the picture first (and then figured out what it was), sometimes he came up with a funny caption and then did the drawing (a few of Droodles still stuck at the caption-only stage are in the book, too). The publishers even included some Droodles that were seen as funny way back when but which now look insensitive, so be forewarned.

It’s worth noting that Price was co-creator of Mad Libs, so I think most of us owe him a thank you or at least a nod– which is probably a good enough reason on its own to flip through this book, even if you’re not looking for a present for a father figure.


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