Page 45 Review by Stephen
Two early silent stories, finally back on our shelves thanks to John Porcellino's Spit And A Half in America, from the creator of THE MAKING OF, THE WRONG PLACE and PANTHER.
First a middle-aged man in a business suit zips over it a bunny suit and waits for his date in the park. Evidently stood up, he doesn't give up but rather gathers his bouquet, takes it to a bar and jumps down its toilet. Thereafter it's a phantasmagorical, subaquatic journey through hell and high water down to the depths where only the angler fish see. Ride A White Shark is a song which Marc Bolan never quite sang, but he might have been tempted to if he'd read this first; he did love comics, after all. Will our ardent lover's determination pay off? I wasn't sure if it would, but I adored the resolution.
There are hearts hidden all over the place in both stories: a nesting pair of vultures, their necks entwined; the snaking shape of a rabbit burrow, on clothes, at the bottom of a bed
Also an awful lot of anatomical holes, not so well hidden.
In the second story there are four birds perched on a branch towards the top-left of a double-page spread, who seem to be signaling in semaphore. I can save you some time and tell you they're not - there's a 'U' there but nothing else, just the Beatles' single cover never spelled 'Help' (it was intended to, but the photographer didn't like the shape they made!).
Coming to that second story, then: a young girl changing after a P.E. lesson experiences her first period and flees school to curl up in bed, pulling the covers up, tight to her neck. Small spots of red trace her path up the stairs, past her puzzled parents. The dog has a lick. At night, however, the menstrual stain spreads over the page as a horned, hairy creature of the woods (Pan, to me, not the devil - though it would depend on your thoughts on female sexuality) sits at the bottom of the bed, playing its pipes, its legs in striped leggings, its feet in red, heeled shoes. She is dragged out the window and carried away to a Bacchanal where she's gradually transfigured (or again, some would say corrupted), growing older, more comfortable, more exuberant by the second.
There are some wonderful creatures flirting and rutting there as the red grows darker still, but the story has a far more ambiguous, sobering conclusion than the first which I enjoyed even more.
Something to make you think, then, and something to admire for all its individualistic craft.