The Red Monkey Double Happiness Book (Fantagraphics)

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redmonkey-header.jpgI really love comics. Reading a collection like Joe Daly's Red Monkey Double Happiness Book, I'm reminded of just why.

 

 

112 pgs. FC; $22.99 Hardcover

(W / A: Joe Daly)

 

I really love comics. Reading a collection like Joe Daly's Red Monkey Double Happiness Book, I'm reminded of just why.

I've never read anything quite like this. It's a hybrid stoner comedy mystery starring the "Red Monkey," a 30-year-old guy with red hair and prehensile monkey feet. It's drawn like a combination of Tintin, Dilbert, and "King of the Hill." It's hilarious, both in terms of the plot and the one-liners. So, like so many other great comics, it's sui generis.

Click for a larger image.You could compare it to the Fabulous Furry Freak Brothers, in terms of wildly improbable, weed-fueled misadventures, but Daly's characters all look like Neanderthals from Gary Larson's The Far Side. Their deadpan expressions as they say profound things like "If you think about it, man, the word pacifist has the word ‘fist' in it" just made me bust out.

The first story finds our hero weathering a demoralizing shitrain of bad news. His apartment floods, his lady dumps him, and a crazy man threatens to kill him in his own apartment building.

Then things get weird, and the mystery gets going. I don't want to ruin anything, so let's just say recreational drugs and a didgeridoo are involved. Naturally, Red Monkey's prehensile feet and superhuman climbing abilities help him uncover some answers.

The second tale is much crazier, and has the funniest twist near the end. Look for a hovercraft, a deranged shaman, and a wayward capybara named John Wesley Harding. These combos may sound random, but Daly pulls them together more cleverly than you might expect. The stories are satisfying, from start to finish.

Daly's plots move at a breezy pace, but his art is sharply detailed, and drawn expertly from a variety of perspective points. The palette is vibrant and fun.

The Red Monkey just wants to contemplate mystical idears and express his creative side, but an array of thieves and no-good-niks keep harshing on his mellow. Everything happens to him, but, with the help of his amazing feet—and his stoner bud Paul—all obstacles can be defeated. And, as he might add, dude, this is some seriously funny shit.

At $22.99 this one's a little steep, though—maybe consider requesting it from the library or waiting for the paperback. | Byron Kerman

 

Click here for more information and a 10-page excerpt, courtesy of Fantagraphics.

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