What Am I Doing Here? is a startling masterwork by one of the forgotten innovators of American comics.
In 1945, after more than a decade as a commercial illustrator—drawing advertisements and cartoons for Life, Time, Esquire, Newsweek, and many other publications—Abner Dean invented a genre all his own: One might call it the Existential Gag Cartoon. He used the elegant draftsmanship and single-panel format of the standard cartoons of the day, but turned them to a deeper, stranger purpose. With an inimitable mixture of wit, earnestness, and enigmatic surrealism, Dean uses this most ephemeral of forms to explore the deepest mysteries of human existence.
What Am I Doing Here?, Dean’s second book and perhaps his best, depicts a world at once alien and familiar, in which everyone is naked but acts like they’re clothed—a world of club-wielding commuters and byzantine inventions, secret fears and perverse satisfactions. Through it all strolls (or crawls, or floats, or stumbles) Dean’s unclad Everyman, searching for love, happiness, and the answers to life’s biggest questions.
This NYRC edition is a jacketed hardcover with extra-thick paper, and features brand-new, restored scans of the original artwork throughout.