Page 45 Review by Stephen
Both previous softcovers printed in a single h/c with the saving of ten quid. Brilliant!
Is it just me who finds bearded women attractive?
DON QUIXOTE is the epic tale of a delusory knight and his bumbling squire as propagated by Rob Davis from an account by Cervantes of a Moors translation of the true and faithful biography as recorded by one Cide Hamete Benengeli. Even though the Don, the squire, the Moor, Side Hamete Benengeli and for all I know Rob Davis never even existed.
It is far from a hagiography.
It is instead one massive slight of hand delivered with winks, nudges and infinite wit by both authors concerned.* It is one long fabrication about those who deceive others and those who lie to themselves. Indeed between volumes one and two of Cervantes original literary prank, some bastard impostor brought out his own sequel which Cervantes, with due dignity, declined to even acknowledge, let alone criticise.
I will not waste my breath insulting this dribbling, pibbling, milk-livered, craven welp, who shall go unnamed; I will not stoop to the level of the wretched, thrasonical codpiece who sought to steal the tales of our errant knight. His idiocy can be witnessed by any who has had the misfortune to read this shitty book and his folly is in assuring that I will let nothing come between me and completing the true account of Don Quixotes adventures that you now hold in your hands.
Pah! What a tit let his folly be its own punishment, and let us speak of him no more.
He later speaks of him some more.
When Don Quixote discovers that his earlier exploits have been preserved for posterity by far less pissant peasants and asks how theyve been received, he is answered thus:
The world smiles at your escapades and marvels at the book. No less than Señior Hunter Emerson says his wife laughed so hard when reading your adventures that her tits came right off. Meanwhile Señior Gravett in the London comedy papers says the adaptor has a savvy awareness of what comics can really do
Laughter?! A comic?! The adventures of Don Quixote are no comedy!
At the risk of belabouring Robs joke: for those not in the know, neither UK comicbook comedy king Hunt Emerson nor the mediums Man At The Crossroads Paul Gravett were around in 1604 (they would thank me for pointing that out). If the brilliance of THE MAN WHO LAUGHS was that it didnt just illustrate the original but interpreted it, the joy here is that Davis has gone one step further and, as I say, propagated the originals intent.
So lets pull back.
Don Quixote is a figment of his own imagination. Well, no: he is a kindly, aging man with a gallant goatee, a matching moustache and a prodigious nay prestigious pair of snowy white eyebrows to boot. Hes just read waaaaaaay too much chivalrous fiction. This has inspired him to jettison all grip on reality in favour of roaming the lands and setting right wrongs, no matter what the cost to his personal safety, his public dignity or the likely outcome. R.e. the likely outcome: hes not very good at it.
He sets off with long-suffering squire Sancho on a series of meandering quests at the centre of which is always the honour of his beauteous, dear Dulcinea. I mentioned that he was delusional, right? You wait until you meet her. Squire Sancho becomes so addicted to these escapades that he enables his easily led leader by fuelling his fantasies further, then swiftly gets sucked up into the nonsense too! This is no longer the blind leading the blinded, nor the fool merely following foolish: it is two nincompoops in mutually validating, self-perpetuating buffoonery. Hurrah!
Their reputation having preceded them in print, the pair are embraced by a bored Duke and Duchess and truly taken in for their own private amusement. Prank after prank is played at their expense, firstly getting the Don to draw his Dulcinea then using that child-like portrait in the most elaborate, torch-lit ploy imaginable. Then theres the flying wooden horse (it doesnt really fly), the curse of the bearded women (they are not really bearded), and the hell-bound unrequited love. Its not just that Quixote and Sancho are gullible; its much worse than that! They are now so addicted to embracing anything that will extend, embellish or facilitate their next quest that, whenever they suspect something may be awry, they fill in the plot pot-holes for them!
This is comicbook comedy gold right up there with anything by Roger Langridge and the very best interpretation of any prose to comics that I am aware of. And since I am aware of almost everything that exists in comicbook form, I think we can dispense of that last qualifier and simply conclude that you need this fucking book.
Davis cartooning throughout is a gesticulating, ebullient joy. Its not just Quixotes grumpy furrowed brows, his apoplectic outrage or his narrowed, eyes-to-one-side when you suspect he may suspect somethings up (hilariously, he really doesnt!). It is his mastery of insouciance, his rodeo-riding of those two runaway eyebrows, but above all Robs exceptional understanding of the exact degree of caricature this literary farce requires. Its all about the mischief.
And then, just when you think youve had it all, you are delivered blinding visual flourishes like the full-page portrait of the Knight Of The Mirrors, which blazes like a partially stained-glass window during the brightest day on record.
However, Id be lying if I said anything Ive written so far were my favourite bits. No. Cervantes book was naughty, clever, and knowing. It was beyond contemporary for its day. How about if Rob Davis introduces a bit of contemporary too, just at the right moment?
Ah, look! We dont need to seek Dulcineas palace, here she comes riding towards us on her horse!
Are you sure, my squire? I see only the scrofulous peasant riding her mule this way.
What?! Are your Graces eyes in the back of your head? Is that why you cannot see her? O Queen and Princess of Beauty, I present your knight. See, he is struck dumb by the magnificence of your presence.
Don Quixote is quite alarmed. Buck-toothed Dulcinea is far from charmed.
Outta the way, fat boy!
* It transpires that Rob Davis does exist: you may have read NELSON former Page 45 Comicbook Of Month and winner of the inaugural British Comics Awards 2012 which Rob Davis instigated, co-created and edited. Its pretty special.