Page 45 Review by Stephen
Looking for happiness is all the wrong places, these six-panel, single-page, full colour comic strips make CYANIDE & HAPPINESS look like good, clean fun.
Innocence is such an anathema to Joan Cornellá that I can only compare him to Ivan Brunetti whose HO! we keep bagged at all times.
Clothed in the brightest, most child-friendly colours, truly this is transgressive, crossing all boundaries of common decency and good taste, and if there aren't multiple mutilations on any given page it's only because something even more awful is happening.
There's a man with a Colgate, rictus grin, handing out leaflets on a lovely, sunny day. He gives one to a young man with red hair and a broad smile. "Jesus Loves You" says the flier. The third panel focussed on the pamphleteer's shirt breast pocket is the punchline (clipped to the pocket is his name badge, "Jesus"), the next three acting as its elliptical dots.
A lot of the strips involve this sort of lingering worry, like the one with the dog fucking a chicken from behind. It's not really a dog, it's a man in a dog suit. He takes off his dog head with a chirpy smile. The chicken does not. The man stops smiling. We close in on the chicken's fixed, blank eyes stare unblinkingly into his...
There's a cautionary tale about answering your mobile phone while driving, and indeed surfing. Don't do that.
My favourite involving an engagement ring and an erection isn't reprinted in the book, but there are plenty of other body parts - a lot of them where they shouldn't be. Some strips present the wonkiest of solutions to problematic situations and most make those situations a great deal worse. Extreme Problem Solving, you could call it.
Many of them involve skewed priorities and play on what is considered customary behaviour, upending it, and the unacceptable is accepted with all those gleeful grins.
The book is quarter bound but perversely - and so appropriately - the spine and its adjacent half inch is that of a softcover book, to which two boards have been attached.