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.


Buy Knockabout’s edition of The Hartlepool Monkey
Buy Singe de Hartlepool French edition from

• Knockabout:
• Facebook Page:

French Connections

• Wilfrid Lupano’s blog:
Jérémie Moreau‘s blog:

• View a preview (in French):

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

Categories: British Comics - Books, British Comics - Graphic Novels, Featured News, Reviews

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4 replies

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

  2. 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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