Book Review: “The Tragical Comedy or Comical Tragedy of Mr. Punch” – Neil Gaiman and Dave McKean


Original Title: The Tragical Comedy or Comical Tragedy of Mr. Punch

Authors: Neil Gaiman(Author), Dave McKean(Illustrator)

Published: September 1st 1995, Vertigo/DC Comics

Genre: Graphic Novels, Fantasy, Horror

Page Count: 96 pages, Paperback

I am attending a seminar about Punch and Judy this semester, and this great Comic book was on the seminar’s reading List, together with some other interesting modern novels, like Rivers of London by Ben Aaronovitch. I had to choose this seminar. Honestly, I had enought of analyzing gender theories, identity issues or grasping society ranks in the time of modernism. This was a whole different subject, something new that sounded so interesting to me. And until now, I am not disappointed by the seminar.

Yesterday, I have finally read this comic within a few hours. It was very entertaining but at the same time sad, macabre and scary. Here are some more aspects I liked about the book:

Both, author and illustrator managed to create such an atmosphere so that the reader would be sucked up in this world. The little boy, the main character of the comic, was presented in a rather melancholic way. Me as a reader also had quite a nostalgic feeling while reading the book. Then there were also some sad parts in which I noticed that the boy was very lonely, abandoned from his parents to spend a lot of time with his grandparents. Also, he spent a lot of time with Mr. Punch and his friends ;)

The drawings seemed to be undetailed, and were kept in dark colours of brown, black and red, but I think this was on purposed and fitted well to the atmosphere. I also liked that there were sometimes photographs shown in the comic book which were also a bit blurry. This gave the comic book a realistic atmosphere as well.

Well, this was it actually. I don’t think that you have to know a lot of things about the Punch and Judy show, although it might be funny to know a few things. But even if you don’t, some scenes of the Punch and Judy show are showed at the beginning of the comic.

Final rating – 4/5: A quick read with a melancholic atmosphere.


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