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The Tragical Comedy or Comical Tragedy of Mr. Punch

A graphic novel written by Neil Gaiman and illustrated by Dave McKean that explores the memory of man regarding his youth, his family, and Punch and Judy puppet shows.

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Not up to Gaiman's usual standards

  • Nov 26, 2008
  • by
I do love Neil Gaiman's work, but Mr. Punch is not one of his better efforts, in my opinion.

It was loosely put together, and failed to offer up the blurbed promises of "A nightmarish world of violence and betrayal." Though the artwork is good, and Mr. Gaiman's prose is good, the book simply was unable to create even a low-level dread of the creepy Punch & Judy puppets.

It is simply a bland story of a young boy's memories of his Grandfather's failing arcade off the main attractions of a seaside business area.

The boy is sent to stay with his Grandparent's while his mother is due to deliver his baby sister, and he meets and old puppeteer who is not very mysterious and witnesses his grandfather have an argument with a young lady he is involved in. No real violence or threatening situations, merely a vaguely distorted view of some old puppets.

The prose is good, but rather pointless; the artwork is good and strangely done, but when put together to form the whole it came out rather unfulfilling and anticlimactic. A rather generic musing of a mundane summer.

If you have everything else by Neil Gaiman, then go ahead and fill up your collection with Mr. Punch, but this is not a good place to start to introduce yourself to Gaiman, and not recommended unless you are a die hard fan.

Pick up one of his novels first, or his Sandman series or Black Orchid which was beautifully done.

Mr. Punch by Neil Gaiman

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Quick Tip by . July 25, 2011
The Comical Tragedy or Tragical Comedy of Mr. Punch is an extraordinarily unique and truly memorable graphic novel written by Neil Gaiman and illustrated by Dave McKean. The book is truly unforgettable, although as the narrative in the story proves, memory isn't entirely accurate and the mysteries it raises may never be solved. While this may be on of Gaiman's best pieces of writing in any medium, it's not necessarily going to appeal to everyone. Unlike most of Gaiman's works, Mr. …
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About this book


The Tragical Comedy or Comical Tragedy of Mr. Punch or simply Mr. Punch is a graphic novel written by Neil Gaiman, illustrated and designed by Dave McKean. It was published in 1994.

The book follows the childhood memories of the narrator, illustrating various experiences in his life: fishing on the beach at dawn; his grandparents and how one grandfather went mad; a hunchback great-uncle; the betrayal of children by adults; fear of the unknown; an unwanted pregnancy, violence, possibly even murder.

The general story is paralleled with the traditional story of the Mr. Punch show, 'The oldest, the wisest play'. The narrator is first introduced to Mr. Punch when fishing with his grandfather, but encounters it, and a mysterious 'professor' (Punch & Judy man), during various other activities. The story of Mr. Punch, is that he kills his baby, then his wife Judy and the police officer who comes to arrest him. He outwits a ghost, a crocodile and a doctor, convinces the hangman to be hanged in his place and, at the play's end, even defeats the devil himself.

Like many of Gaiman's works, a major theme in this graphic novel is memory and the unreliability of one's own recollections.

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Author: Neil Gaiman, Dave McKean
Genre: Comics & Graphic Novels, Dark Comedy, Drama
Publisher: DC Comics, Vertigo
Date Published: 1994
Format: Graphic novel
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