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The Tragical Comedy or Comical Tragedy of Mr. Punch

3.77  ·  Rating details ·  6,901 ratings  ·  361 reviews
A dark and frightening fully painted novella, MR. PUNCH tells the tale of a young boy's loss of innocence results from a horrific confrontation with his past. Spending a summer at his grandfather's seaside arcade, a troubled adolescent harmlessly becomes involved with a mysterious Punch and Judy Man and a mermaid-portraying woman. But when the violent puppet show triggers ...more
Paperback, 96 pages
Published September 1st 1995 by Vertigo / DC Comics (first published 1994)
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Average rating 3.77  · 
Rating details
 ·  6,901 ratings  ·  361 reviews

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Miranda Reads
Nov 08, 2017 rated it did not like it
Shelves: dumpster-fire
If I hadn't sworn to read everything by Neil Gaiman, I would have avoided this altogether. That being said, I wish I would've skipped this one.

The story line in a word? Disturbing. The main plot, involving the human boy, seemed to have a dream-like quality with the whimsical treatment of time and scene. However, this is not one of the happy-little-dreams. This is an endless nightmare. The secondary plot involves the puppet show. In the show, Mr. Punch is violent in the extreme - he beats his wife and
Jun 06, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is a tale from earlier years of Neil Gaiman's varied and illustrious career (long may it continue).

This edition is from 2006 and although I am no officando of the works and wonders of Neil Gaiman but I can say that for as long as I have known of his works he has always produced something new and unique and reading this I can tell you that its new and unique to me.

Now this book tells its story in a combination of hand drawn artwork, composite photographs and combinati
Review to come... Once I can figure out my thoughts...
Feb 22, 2008 rated it liked it
Recommends it for: Neil Gaiman Fans.
Recommended to Austin by: I Picked It Up On A Whim.
In the late '80's / early-'90's, when the comics industry was going through another one of it's "growth spurts" that caused all sorts of chaos and speculation with regards to the future of the medium, everyone was scrambling for a way to take advantage of a market that suddenly had a lot of publicity but not much new product. Every publisher launched a number of new titles and developed many new ideas - often letting writers and artists go nuts - in an effort to be the first to have something ne ...more
Ashley *Hufflepuff Kitten*
Not sure what to think of this. Disturbing for sure. Loved the contrasting artwork though. Time to go rewatch DOLLS. And I may reread this eventually.
Yolanda Sfetsos
I'm a big Neil Gaiman fan, so when I received this creepy-looking graphic novel from Bloomsbury--thanks so much!--I was curious about the story.

While fishing with his grandfather, a young boy stumbles upon a creepy Punch and Judy puppet show by the seashore. He's instantly drawn into the story, even though it scares him. Mr Punch is a horrible character intent on beating and killing everyone he encounters during the performance, but he's still intrigued.

This boy is consta
Apr 29, 2017 rated it really liked it
I wavered between three stars for the story and five stars for McKean's art, so settled on four.

This, like so many of Gaiman's tales is about memory and how unreliable it can be when an adult is remembering his youth. Bad things happen all the time, and despite the adults around children trying to protect them, they are still aware. Sometimes more so than seems possible. Examining memories of youth in adulthood often makes us remember fear and violence that we would otherwise have fo
Jun 10, 2016 rated it liked it
I usually steer clear of horror or graphic novels, so I guess the appeal for me here was Neil Gaiman. Indeed, the only thing to recommend this book, in my opinion, is the writing. The story is told from a mature point of view, but because the narrator is recounting events that happened to him as a child, I felt that he captures a child's perspective very well. On this note, however, I felt that it was unrealistic for him to remember dialogue, scenes, and rumors in such detail.

I found the art so
May 29, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition

The Tragical Comedy or Comical Tragedy of Mr. Punch is yet another iconic collaboration between Neil Gaiman and Dave McKean. This graphic novel is essentially a retelling of Mr. Punch and Judy (a traditional British puppet show) from the point of view of our nameless protagonist.

The protagonist recalls his childhood as he stayed with his grandparents, went to various Mr. Punch and Judy shows, and ultimately witnessed violence. Everything blends and becomes a dream-like blur as the protagonist's/>The
Newly Wardell
Oct 28, 2019 rated it did not like it
I just dont get it. This was boring and dull. The art work couldnt save it because it's lazy. I'm a realist I wanted the story of the British phenomenon known as Punch and Judy. I was really looking forward to something I've heard mentioned by my Brit pals for years. What I got was almost a 100 pages of sad. Boo hoo this little kid had to visit his grandparents while his mom was having a baby and got to see professors do the Punch and Judy show. While visiting his grandparents, he learns about h ...more
Mar 10, 2016 rated it really liked it
This graphic novel is one of Neil Gaiman's earliest but it's still a fantastic read.

There are lots of things to enjoy - particularly the arrangement and composition of the accompanying graphics by Dave McKean and the haunting quality of Gaiman's narrative which focuses on childhood, memories and the sinister world of adulthood.

In most of Gaiman's work these themes regularly occur and in The Tragical Comedy or Comical Tragedy of Mr Punch this isn't an exception. He likes to explore the past and
Suad Shamma
Oct 30, 2014 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: own, 2014
I've just recently started to delve more into the world of Graphic Novels, and so far I've read mostly Neil Gaiman's work. Did I enjoy this book? Yes, absolutely. But did I think it was amazing? Not really.

I was a little confused with the storyline, I was never sure where it was going or what was happening half the time. It did come off as very creepy and sinister, which is what it was supposed to be, so it gets points for that. However, the storyline overall seemed to lack something. I didn't
Tayane Cristie
Maybe it was too complex for me to get it entirely, but I finished this graphic novel with a "what the f* I just read" taste in my mouth. I like a tiny bit of it, though. It's really morbid and weid, and I like this part of the GN, but the story didn't really get to me. I haven't read too many graphic novels, so I can't say for sure, but one of my thoughts after finishing this is that this is definitely unique as it comes to the art style. I don't hate it, but I don't like it either. I'll keep i ...more
Feb 17, 2019 rated it it was amazing
as a whole, this felt like true work of art, not weirdly imbalanced between art and writing like some other graphic novels/comics i’ve read...
properly creepy, too, and hazy with that film through which we see things as a child, where we understand things we cannot hope to comprehend...
SheriC (PM)
Graphic novels are really not my thing. But this is the first one I've read that *felt* more like an illustrated novel than a comic book. Or at least, illustrated short story. It might be because this one has as much narrative structure as dialogue and very little action, so the artwork seemed more for building atmosphere and mimicking a sort of stop-motion movie drama, like extreme closeups, rather than depicting characters in action with voice bubbles over their heads.

The artwork is strange b
Apr 17, 2018 rated it liked it
disturbing picture books with mixed media art is exactly what i want out of this life
Crazy Book Eater
Nov 22, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: what-i-have
It is a really creepy symbolic story I need to think over and reread in the future.
Chelsea 🏳️‍🌈
I have mixed feelings about this.

Let me say, I know beyond a shadow of a doubt that the art will stay with me. The work that went into it, the tone it creates... it will stay with you. It's definitely unlike anything I've seen in a graphic novel before.

Full disclosure, this is the first Neil Gaiman anything that I've read. I know, I know, What the hell is wrong with me? I've actually come into contact with several works by his wife but I've never read anything he's done.
Aug 23, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: comics
The book was lent to me by a friend and also if I didn't know the title, it was enough a look to the author to understand that I was holding another unforgettable story. Neil Gaiman is now a certainty and once again i'm not disappointed.
The atmosphere is one of the darkest that I've ever encountered in his work and the author draws us, through the memories of a man, in the darkest depths of his family. His memories are reported through the eyes of himself as a child and scrutinized by hims
May 19, 2008 rated it liked it
The only time I've read anything or seen anything related to Mr. Punch before was in Diana Wynne Jones's The Magicians of Caprona. All that happened was that the boy and girl main characters were changed into Punch and Judy and had to perform for the Duchess and Duke. Even with Gaiman explaining the Punch and Judy puppets and background/plot through a character explaining it to the main character (a boy, the narrator), I still find this book confusing. It's nicely told from a child's perspective for th ...more
Feb 11, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: graphic-novel
Childhood is a dim, misty country. Facts and faces, people and places all flit in and out of the streetlight of memory, all mediated by the prism of emotion. Neil Gaiman's Mr Punch captures that feeling exactly, through the eyes of a small boy -- Neil himself -- and it feels authentic because it is essentially autobiographical, and because it also has a sense of place without being being too specific.

Dave McKean's atmospheric artwork matches young Neil's perspective in the 70s, ferried to and around South
Mar 01, 2019 rated it liked it
3.5 It was good. Story was weird, Art was weird. It was great
Mar 16, 2011 rated it it was amazing
The essence of memory is that we rarely get right to the heart of the matter. Something floats up into our thoughts and teases out a recollection. If that recollection has an emotion attached, then we are pulled down deeper towards other memories. As those memories gather about us, the world is recreated for us as it once was. Or at least how we saw it once upon a time. Neil Gaiman & Dave McKean’s MR. PUNCH is all about how we access memory. The story starts with shallow memories, brief bits ...more
Vipul Patel
Artistic Slog
I had never thought that I was going to rate Neil Gaiman so low. Considering the fact that Dave Mackean at helm of art, my expectation are sky high. But I was gut-punched with mediocre story with moody monologue, uneven pacing and haphazard art (Yes, Dave Mackean is bit let down for me here).
First of all, story was not up to the mark considering the world re-known fact that one of the most established story teller is the author. For me, pacing was off the chart. Sometimes you
Mar 24, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: anyone who wants something more than just another graphic novel
Shelves: sequential-art
I bought this book as a present for a great friend of mine, but I couldn't help but read it before I actually gave it to her.
The cover is itself a work of art and the illustrations and overall design are just perfect. They are as adequate to the way the story is told as I have ever seen. (though I admit I haven't read many graphic novels and my opinion might be biased)The novel is a work of genius.
You see the narrator both as a young boy and the adult he became, telling you some events of
Jun 18, 2013 rated it liked it
Shelves: naffic-grovel
An adult nostalgically recollects childhood events that seem mysterious...could be The Ocean at the End of the Lane, right? Well, no, because this story is not fantastical and is very short, not to mention being in the form of a comic book.

For me, the atmospheric, almost disturbing illustrations by McKean were the best aspect of the book. The story itself I found uninspired and just as with The Ocean at the End of the Lane the childhood nostalgia aspect was detrimental. I'm not quite clear wh
Nov 30, 2014 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Not quite sure what to make of this one. I almost feel like the story would have been fine has a traditional novella and the art would have been fabulous with less text to distract from it. The art is gorgeous and appropriately frightening in all the right places but you're constantly distracted from the art by great chunks of Gaiman's prose. I suppose that's not really much of a criticism in the end. It's an appropriately dark and fantastical story even considering that Punch and Judy shows are ...more
The story could be so much more.
As one reviewer described perfectly :
"It all seemed like a hazy dream/nightmare that you wake up from halfway through, not knowing what happened or why it happened, and when you try to go back to sleep to finish it off, it eludes you until it is completely gone and you're just left with the remnants of that vague dream you awoke from."

The art is astonishingly beautiful though.
Aug 03, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Disturbing. Memory is both the most painful thing and the saddest. Gaiman's words and McKean's images are perfection.
Paul Frandano
Rounding up: Gaiman's moody, searchingly atmospheric story - easily four stars, and perhaps, on rereading, five - and a Hall-of-Fame artwork and lettering package from Dave McKean makes 4.5 rounded to five stars. At times disturbing - "Where's JUDY!" - and other times nerve-wracking, a wonderful retelling of the Punch and Judy story, with traces of its deep history. Both fellows are geniuses and the book a comics masterpiece.
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