June 11th, 2011


The Red Monkey Double Happiness Book -- Joe Daly

The Red Monkey Double Happiness Book
by Joe Daly
Fantagraphics, Hardcover, 120 pages, July 2009

my first time reading a South African cartoonist, I think. His nationality is relevant to the stories in this book in that they take place in Cape Town, whose geography/landscape figure prominently in the art. The beautiful way Daly draws this city, as the two main characters, Dave & Paul, drive a vintage automobile around in it, turns out to be Red Monkey's main attraction, much more so than the wordy stoner dialogue and the self-consciously twisted stoner plotlines.

nice vacation

Daly's effortful writing voice might irritate at first, but it's harmless and I grew to think of it as a friend who's well-meaning but not that funny but who makes you laugh once every ten jokes. There are two stories here, and the first one, "The Leaking Cello Case", is shitty, but it introduces the cast and the location. The second, "John Wesley Harding", must have been done much later -- Daly has streamlined his art a lot and abandoned the ugly contoured colouring he used in the first story; the change is jarring and welcome. His storytelling has added depth, too -- Dave & Paul's friendship starts to make sense, and a conservationist plot angle betrays a possible motivation for Daly's loving depictions of roadside scenery. This is the kind of comix whose sophisticated cartooning and relatively clumsy writing make me jealous in a way I'm not sure I can completely account for.


Rating: ★★★☆☆

-- reviewed by MZA.