As part of the thirty comics that I want to wade through before the time I reach the terrible prospect of my thirtieth year of existence I purchased a copy of Neil Gaiman’s The Tragical Comedy or Comical Tragedy Of Mr Punch. A rather morbid and dreary tale of a man reflecting upon the experiences of his youth spending time with his grandparents and various relations, interspersed with various experiences of the traditional show Punch and Judy, and those responsible for bringing the magic to life.
The comic really highlights the violence of Mr Punch and that this sort of thing can have a truly lasting effect on children, and this is mirrored in the experience of the narrator who is introduced to the worlds of violence and of sex, and showing the early signs of disillusionment that come from witnessing adults as people for the first time, by being subject to their foibles and innate humanness the illusion crumbles and the child begins to become an adult, in possibly the worst way imaginable.
It is a work typical of Gaiman who manages to show magic and enchantment in even the most banal of situations and the dark moodyness is really highlighted in the artwork of Dave McKean and lends an almost Tim Burton like quality to the story.
Mr Punch is his usual terrifyingly evil self and McKean really has go the essence of the little bastard down. But I suppose if your going to do it “That’s the way to do it.”