Saturday, March 23, 2019

TCCDM Dig and Flip: "The Tragical Comedy or Comical Tragedy of Mr. Punch"

"The Tragical Comedy or Comical Tragedy of Mr. Punch"

(I stumbled upon a good-sized box filled with a variety of graphic novels at an estate sale. No official count as I've just been pulling from the box when I find time to read one.  Afterward, I post the book and go from there.)

"The Tragical Comedy or Comical Tragedy of Mr. Punch"
by Neil Gaiman,  Dave McKean (Illustrator)
1995 by Vertigo
96 pages

Mr. Punch, of course, is the main puppet from the vintage "Punch and Judy" show.  Punch was abusive, violent and famous for taking a stick and beating the crap out of everyone.  Kids loved watching him, I suppose, but maybe not as much as one would believe.  Neil Gaiman tells the story through the eyes of a young boy's encounter with a puppet show and the memories that almost rise to the surface but never quite leave the safety of darker shadows.

The macabre artwork provided by Dave McKean in this graphic is not usually my go-to style of choice, but here it totally and absolutely works. Very David Lynch-ian. (I just made that up.)

"...Mr. Punch" (inside)

Taken together, the story is disturbing, in much the same way a stranger's presence can sometimes affect a familiar room when you're a small child.  Gaiman's prose is really good and I enjoyed reading the novel aloud for my ears to enjoy, as well. (I was alone, I think.)  The only caveat, however, is there's no real closure to speak of.  No pay-off.  No Crackerjack prize.  So I was left scratching my head and mumbling 'the macabre bastahd!' under my breath.  Whadyagonnado?  It's Vertigo.

"Punch and Judy" - Marillion / "Fugazi" (1984)
(performing TOTP 9/2/84)

Good stuff.

Casey Chambers

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