The Tragical Comedy of Mr. Punch is a stand alone Neil Gaiman comic about a man remembering a childhood summer with his grandparents in England. Sent away for the summer because his mother was about to give birth, the narrator spent a majority of his summer engulfed in the violent tale of malicious Punch and poor Judy.
The story of Punch and Judy is really violent. The story traces back to the 1660’s originally from Italy making its way to England in the 18th century. A script for Punch and Judy was written by John Payne Collier in 1828 under the title “the Tragical Comedy or Comical Tragedy of Punch and Judy.” In the story Punch happily kills their baby, kills Judy, kills the police, the judge and the devil that come after him for his crimes. In true Neil Gaiman style, there is an air of mystery, and paranormal in the story. The images are not traditional cartoon comic book style. They are instead a combination of photographs and drawn images, dark and dreary that cast a melancholy shadow over the story.
Although I’m a bigger fan of Neil Gaiman’s prose, this one is a really good introduction into the dark shadows of his mind.
The Tragical Comedy of Mr. Punch
by Neil Gaiman
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There are 5 Laws of Librarians: 1) Books are to be read. 2) Every person his or her book. 3)Every book its reader. 4) Save the time of the reader. 5) The library is a growing organism.
With these five laws I am soon launched into volume 1 of the Rex Libris comic book collection by James Turner. This collection contains the first five chapters, with roughly 32 pages per chapter. I think I derived the most humor from this book just by being a librarian and understand the painstakingly difficult patrons with overdue books and fees. Although this series takes it to an utmost extreme when in the first few pages librarian Rex Libris must deal with an unruly patron, a demon-spirit Samuri.
With cunning, sarcasm, and plenty of research skills, Rex is able to learn how to defeat all the various enemies he faces. The writing is intelligent, although maybe littered with a few too many scientific terminology that sometimes takes away from the plot.
The story is still in its developing stages, so there is really only character introduction in the volume 1. We are introduced to Rex Libris (The Librarian) Circe (a 2000 year old retired witch, now librarian) Simon (Once tried to conquer the world and has since been turned into a bird by Circe) and Hypatia (a newcomer), and the Administrator (the boss). This collection of librarian super-powers work in the Middleton Public Library, which apparently rest on a ley of mystical power, thus enhancing the appearance of fictional characters that can be seen by library patrons. Filtered throughout the story are many library idioms (aways see a librarian before heading out into the stacks, always return your books or we will come after you, etc).
I’m curious to know what the appeal of this book is for non-library workers. I think Rex Libris may become one of the coolest librarians since the advent of Giles some ten years back.
Find this at your local library
Buy this book on Amazon or support your local comic book store and purchase it from there.
by James Turner
SLG Publishing (June 25, 2007)