Review: The Comical Tragedy or Tragical Comedy of Mr Punch

Mr_Punch_20th_Anniversary

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 buried memories of the boy’s family, the lives of all become feverishly intertwined. With disturbing mysteries and half-truths uncontrollably unraveling, the young boy is forced to deal with his family’s dark secrets of violence, betrayal, and guilt.


I was sent this a while ago, and I did get to read it, but I put it into my bookshelf and forgot all about the review. Sorry Sonia 😅

Anyway, onto the review itself. The Comical Tragedy or Tragical Comedy of Mr Punch (I’m just going to call it Mr Punch from now on because my fingers cannot physically take the incredible labour of typing out that super long title) is an amazing book. EVERYBODY NEEDS TO READ NEIL GAIMAN RIGHT NOW. AND EVERYBODY NEEDS TO READ BOOKS FEATURING DAVE McKEAN ART RIGHT NOW.

These two are what I would call “masters at their craft”. They truly know the ins and outs of what they excel at doing – either their writing or their art.

Gaiman writes superbly. He truly knows how to explore the ins and outs of the English language with long, intricate sentences that you need to read twice to fully appreciate. Don’t think that you can read this book quickly, just because it’s a graphic novel, and because it’s thin. There are many words, and rather than the words complementing the art, it’s the art complementing the words.

Onto the art.

I truly appreciate good art, and I’ve never seen any kind of art like this. there are certain scenes with photographs. There are certain scenes where he’s drawn. There are certain scenes with both drawings (they seem to be acrylic but I’m no art expert) and photographs. A lot of the scenes with Mr Punch (the puppet) are photographs of real life puppets, presumably sculpted by Dave himself, combined with elements of drawings and typography, creating an altogether very surreal look.

In terms of plot, although the book isn’t designed to be horror, it’s certainly very dark, and the drawings reflect that. The illustrations are dark as well, and the pages showing broad daylight are extremely rare.

All in all, a book that, although seems to be aimed at children, definitely isn’t for children. Surreal and intricately told with bone-chilling illustrations, you won’t see anything like it again.


Thank you to Bloomsbury for providing me with a copy in exchange for an honest review!


Rating: ★★★★★★★★★★ 10/10


The Comical Tragedy or Tragical Comedy of Mr Punch is out now. Buy at your local bookstore.


The Info:

  • Title: The Comical Tragedy or Tragical Comedy of Mr Punch
  • Author: Neil Gaiman with Dave McKean
  • Paperback: 96 pages
  • Publisher: Bloomsbury
  • Language: English
  • ISBN10:1563892464
  • URL: Goodreads
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