These five books contain a mixed bag of alternative cartoons for readers who can't face the prospect of yet another "Garfield" collection:
Roz Chast's minimalist ink-and-watercolor drawings tell weird little stories, including an adaptation of Thomas Mann's "Magic Mountain" for ballpoint pens and "A Parakeet's First View of the Universe," in which a budgie flies out an apartment window--and beyond the Milky Way.
In a similarly outre vein, Bill Griffith presents the latest adventures of his so-out-of-it-he's-hip hero, Zippy the Pinhead. Zippy's tongue-in-cheek embrace of the excesses of American popular culture can be read on several levels, and was obviously an influence on David Byrne's "True Stories."
The urban world of Lee Lorenz's very funny New Yorker cartoons is slightly less skewed than Griffith's, but only slightly: A street-corner hot dog vendor, frowsily rendered in gray ink wash, asks his customer, "Is that with or without goat cheese?"