Dara Naraghi's Reviews > The Tragical Comedy or Comical Tragedy of Mr. Punch

The Tragical Comedy or Comical Tragedy of Mr. Punch by Neil Gaiman
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Dec 22, 2010

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Read in December, 2010

I'm a big Neil Gaiman fan, however (and I know this may sound like blasphemy) I'm not the world's biggest fan of Dave McKean's art. I appreciate his art, but it doesn't move me or speak to me as other artists' work does. Overall, this was a well written, solid effort from Gaiman, but being one of his earlier works, it lacks some of the charm that his later works weave so well into the narrative. It did get me interested in the history and culture of Punch and Judy shows, though, and Gaiman and McKean collaborate quite well together. Using puppets (instead of illustrations) to tell a story dealing with puppet shows makes sense, and McKean is eminently qualified for the job. The standout moments to me were the sequence where the author recalls a hazy memory of a conversation - which McKean depicts by placing the maquettes of the characters behind soft gauze - and the emotionally brutal confrontation between the protagonist's grandfather and a "mermaid". If you're a fan of either creator, you know what to expect and won't be disappointed, but I found this particular outing a bit too dry and bleak to consider it a 5-star piece of work. Again, your mileage will vary.
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