By Laura Howell
Publisher: Soaring Penguin Press
Out: 31st August 2015
The Book: The Bizarre Adventures of Gilbert & Sullivan: the very model of a modern mirthful comic book! Based on historical facts and characters, Laura Howell conjures a delightful collection of topsy-turvy stories set in the Victorian England of Gilbert & Sullivan. Illustrated in a Manga style (for which Laura is well-known), this collection is easily readable while retaining the articulation, intelligence and playfulness that distinguished the work of Arthur Sullivan and W.S Gilbert. Featured characters include Oscar Wilde, Wagner, Mad King Ludwig and Queen Victoria’s rat-catcher.
The Review: Everyone knows Gilbert and Sullivan were peerless as composers of light opera. But fewer people are aware of their dual identities as super-powered, dapper defenders of the realm! How else could they have come up with the inspiration for The Pirates of Penzance?
Winner of the International Manga and Anime Festival “Best Comic” category, The Bizarre Adventures Of Gilbert & Sullivan is an absolute gem of a book, and easily one of the funniest humour comics I’ve ever read. Oh, of course I’ve chortled along to the likes of Brickman by Lew Stringer, Nick Miller’s Worry Man, Dave Jones work for VIZ, Gilbert Shelton’s Fat Freddy’s Cat, “I-Spy” in Sparky (to name but a few, before folk such as Jamie Smart, David Leach, Paul J. Palmer and Nigel Parkinson come after me with pick axe handles) … but it’s rare that a comic makes me laugh out loud like this one did.
In fact, thinking about it, I think this is easily on a par with the first time I read all the hair jokes at the expense of the Romans when I was eight in Asterix the Gaul. It stirred that kind of mirth memory!
Based on historical facts (did you know that Queen Victoria had a royal Rat Catcher named Jack Black? (you do now!) and characters, including Oscar Wilde and Mad King Ludwig as you’ve never seen them before (the evil Louis Pasteur and his antics with vegetables, for example), Laura Howell conjures a delightful collection of madcap, topsy-turvy stories set in an unpredictable Victorian England.
This is a terrific and fun comic, a 72-page collection that’s an absolute bargain at £5.99. Seek it out. Annoy your local Gilbert & Sullivan Society with it. Highly recommended!
• The Bizarre Adventures Of Gilbert & Sullivan is released on 18th June 2015, priced 5.99 | Check out a Sampler of the book here