Sunday, August 14, 2005

The Tragical Comedy, or Comical Tragedy of Mr Punch: A Romance

From the BBC:

A small boy goes to stay with his grandparents in Southsea, spending his days at his grandfather's failed arcade on the seafront. When Swatchell, a Punch and Judy professor, sets up his booth in the arcade, the boy becomes fascinated by the story played out by these strange violent wooden puppets - particularly when strange parallels start to develop between the story of Mr Punch and events in his own family's life.


Yes, Neil Gaiman’s audio adaptation of his haunting, postmodern take on the British seaside allegory is being re-aired on BBC Radio Three this evening, at 8:30.

Mr Punch was originally published as a graphic novel in 1994, with illustrations by Dave McKean. Those were the halcyon days of “comics for grown-ups,” when illustrious publishers were actually willing to commission original graphic novels. The trend lasted only a while, but gave us great works in prestige formats, the best of which were this, and A Small Killing, by Alan Moore.

I missed this previously, but will definitely tune in tonight, if only to satisfy my curiosity regarding the format shift. The story is a disturbing tale of innocence lost, but much of the terrifying and soul-destrying atmosphere of the book is provided by McKean’s artwork. He makes everything in out of season Southsea look so wasted and dilapidated, it eventually becomes wearing to look at.

Last week I pointed the interested in the direction of Big Finish’s dramatisation of Luther Arkwright. Now this shows up. The question I have to ask though, is when are we going to get that 26 CD adaptation of Cerebus?

Incidentally, if you can find a copy, you’ll be doing yourself a very big favour by reading McKean’s own Cages.

Category: Books and Comics

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