In Review: The Hartlepool Monkey

Hartlepool Monkey Advance Cover

by Wilfrid Lupano and Jérémie Moreau
Publisher: Knockabout
Out: Now

The Book:  An English language edition of Wilfrid Lupano and Jérémie Moreau‘s Le Singe de Hartlepool, telling the story of the legendary Hartlepool monkey, allegedly hung by townsfolk fearing it was a French spy during the Napoleonic wars.

Published in French by Delcort, Le Singe de Hartlepool  is the first collaboration Lupano and Moreau and had a high profile during this year’s Angouleme Festival.

According to local Hartlepool folklore, during the Napoleonic wars a French ship was wrecked off the coast of Hartlepool. The only survivor was a monkey, allegedly wearing a French uniform to provide amusement for the crew. On finding it, some locals decided to hold an impromptu trial in the town square; since the monkey was unable to answer their questions, and many locals were unaware of what a Frenchman may look like, they concluded that the monkey was in fact a French sailor.

Just to make sure, the animal was thus sentenced to death and hanged in the town square on the Headland.

Nineteenth century Hartlepool, as seen in the book. Image courtesy Knockabout
Nineteenth century Hartlepool, as seen in the book. Image courtesy Knockabout

The Review: As we reported earlier this year, Wilfrid Lupano overheard the story of the Hartlepool Monkey in a Manchester pub and has turned the anecdote into a simply stunning graphic novel comic, with the monkey’s story becoming a universal tale denouncing the narrow-mindedness and stupidity.

The monkey discovered. Image courtesy Knockabout
The monkey discovered in the original French edition. Image courtesy Knockabout

While the story of the monkey hung by the citizens of Hartlepool as a French spy in the Napoleonic Wars is well known, Lupano retells it with aplomb, delivering a powerful, beautifully drawn story, well deserving of the accolades it has received for its original French edition.

Mixing farce with drama, you’re quickly pulled into the story, which exposes the very worst of human stupidity and prejudice, weaving a macabre but skillfully crafted tale. Art and script prove a perfect blend of the very best in graphic storytelling, swiftly characterizing the principal characters and scenes with a near casual ease that belies the work that has gone into delivering such gorgeous artwork.

Plus, for anyone from Hartlepool, the faithful reproduction of the locality – the Headland, the Fish Sands, the Town Wall and St Hilda’s Church – are beautifully drawn.

While the French monkey is the victim of the tale, so too, in different ways, are those that encounter it, including those who call for its execution. I thoroughly recommend it.

Links

Buy Knockabout’s edition of The Hartlepool Monkey
Buy Singe de Hartlepool French edition from amazon.co.uk

• Knockabout: www.knockabout.com
• Facebook Page: www.facebook.com/Lesingedehartlepool

French Connections

• Wilfrid Lupano’s blog: http://wilfridlupano.blogspot.co.uk
Jérémie Moreau‘s blog: http://mor-row.blogspot.co.uk

• View a preview (in French): www.bdgest.com/preview-1121-BD-singe-de-hartlepool-le-recit-complet.html

• Here’s a video (in French) of Le Singe de Hartlepool‘s promotion at Angouleme


John Freeman

The founder of downthetubes, John describes himself as is a "freelance comics operative", currently working as a freelance editor for TITAN COMICS, as Creative Consultant on the new DAN DARE audio adventures for B7 Media, and on promotional work for the LAKES INTERNATIONAL COMIC ART FESTIVAL and LANCASTER COMICS DAY. John has worked in British comics publishing for over 30 years, starting out at Marvel UK, where he edited a number of the Genesis 1992 books with Paul Neary. His numerous credits include editor of titles such as Doctor Who Magazine at Marvel and Star Trek Magazine and Babylon 5 Magazine at Titan Magazines, where he was Managing Editor. He also edited STRIP Magazine and worked as an editor on several audio comics for ROK Comics, including TEAM M.O.B.I.L.E. and THE BEATLES STORY. Most recently he is writing CRUCIBLE as a creator-owned project with 2000AD artist Smuzz, published on Tapastic; and DEATH DUTY and SKOW DOGS with Dave Hailwood for the digital comic 100% Biodegradable.

4 thoughts on “In Review: The Hartlepool Monkey

  • September 25, 2013 at 8:09 am
    Permalink

    This looks great – I live just outside of Hartlepool so would be daft not to pick this up!

  • October 3, 2013 at 4:21 pm
    Permalink

    Friday 4th October sees the Hartlepool launch of this great story.
    I have read the original version and can’t wait to read it in Hartlepudlian English.
    Great review!

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