The Learners
Chip Kidd
(Simon & Schuster)
Chip Kidd is one of North America's most famous graphic designers, named in Time's top-100 most influential people. Best known for his DC Comics publications (he's obsessed with Batman), Kidd is an author, too: His hilarious first novel, The Cheese Monkeys, is set in a 1950s American college where naive narrator Happy enrolls in a graphic design intro course, taught by the sadistic Winter Sorbeck. In this pre-computer era, Sorbeck preaches the effectiveness of design by dropping students off on a lonely road outside a hospital for the criminally insane, equipped with only poster board and markers to make hitchhiking signs. In Kidd's sequel The Learners, it's 1961 and Happy has landed a job as an art assistant at a small Connecticut ad firm. For those who love the swank 1960s TV drama Mad Men, you'll be disappointed: no martini afternoons, just weirdos working on potato-chip campaigns. When Happy's assigned to an ad recruiting experiment participants for the Yale psychology department, his happiness begins to unfurl. Sadly, Kidd treads lighter on the humour and the plot feels forced, as if he's waiting for a movie option. Kidd's strengths lie in his use and dissection of typography and how the interplay of words and images control modern life.
---Sue Carter Flinn
type: graphic novel

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