This post is for our good friend Jboy Pac Man (for obvious reasons)!
Today's odd little tome of yesteryear is a prime example of '80s absurdity, craze mentality and the joy of scoring a previously unknown gem.
I scored this book, The Pac Man Riddle and Joke Book, the same day that I found my copy of the Batman Which Way book (from my previous post). Now, I have never seen this book before, but considering my lust for all things Pac Man in the 4th grade, I promise you that if I had seen this treasure when it first came out in 1982 (perhaps at a school book fair) I would have been on it like Pac Man on a blue ghost.
One of my favorite things about buying used books is the fact that you occasionally find a hand-written inscription on the inside front cover. These always make me a little sad, since the book is now clearly a forgotten gift, but then I quickly cheer up when I remember that I'm bringing it home to take care of it and that for one more brief moment, albeit by a total stranger, the inscriber is remembered once again.
This book looks like it was a gift to someone named "Resi", which if you simply switch around the "i" and the "s", spells my name! I also love how "Mike" has drawn his own rendition of Pac Man (much better than the author, but more on that in a bit), and even thought to add the immortal words R. Crumb rip-off t-shirts so prevalent in the '70s; Keep on truckin'!
The book is basically a onslaught of puns disguised as riddles, usually employing the words "pac" or "dot". In 4th grade, these jokes wouldn't have been funny, but my friends and I would have had a blast on the playground groaning over them, which is sometimes just as fun as a good chuckle.
Now, not to pick on a guy that wrote a Pac Man joke book 30 years ago, but this guy's artistic skills are seriously lacking. Of course, maybe the drawings don't need to be that great in a joke book about a video game character, and for that matter, he's published at least one more book than I have so I should probably just shut up.
I love the authors detail choices, such as making Pac Man a very simple round shape with a pie piece taken out, yet drawing the ghosts with detailed pixelated features. Weird.
Of course, I would be remiss if I didn't share a pic of a mash-up of two of may favorite '80s things; Pac Man and The Dukes of Hazzard...
And just to one-up that last pic...
Over all, books like this, despite their crudeness, their silliness and their lack of conventional cultural significance, are, to me, and instant snapshot of where we were back then in the pop-culture arena, plunking quarters into these new massive bleeping cabinets, basking in the glow of the rapidly racing pixels only to walk away, craving more, even if that means groaning at a couple of puns in a little book from your uncle "Mike".
Man... I miss the early '80s.