‘I live in Cape Town. It’s a beautiful, dirty, dangerous, laid back port town on the tip of Southern Africa where the people drive fast and talk slow,’ narrates Dave, aka the Red Monkey, in The Red Monkey Double Happiness Book, Joe Daly’s sensational follow up to his debut short story collection Scrublands (a 2006 Ignatz Award Nominee).
The Red Monkey Double Happiness Book features two of Dave’s adventures: ‘The Leaking Cello Case’ and ‘John Wesley Harding.’ In the introductory story, Dave, who is equipped with monkey feet that enable him to climb most anything, has a Very Bad Day until - accompanied by his didgeridoo-wielding, freeloading friend Paul and assisted by his babysitting charge Chu Woo - he solves a mystery, getting the girl in the process. ‘John Wesley Harding’ is a tale stuffed to the gills with with action, adventure, conspiracy theories and weed, as Dave and Paul, in their quest to find a missing capybara named after the Bob Dylan album, stumble across an environmental menace with criminal implications. In this full-color graphic novel, Daly expertly cartoons the Cape Town milieu, the wetlands that surround it, and the ethnically diverse oddballs who occupy it. Dave and Paul, a well-meaning pair of stoners in the tradition of Cheech and Chong or Harold and Kumar, not only get into hilarious trouble in their rambles, but also ask the larger questions, such as ‘what the hell am I doing with my life?’ and ‘what steps can I personally take to help protect the earth and the other species that inhabit it?’ (though most people’s answers to these questions don’t include sword fights and hovercrafts). The South African cartoonist brings a refreshingly original -and utterly hilarious- voice to the comics medium, a dry, deadpan wit anchored in everyday reality combined with an outrageously deranged plot, rendered in a style that somehow successfully merges detailed representational drawing with bigfoot cartooning.
The Red Monkey Double Happiness Book, which is sometimes noirish, often funny and always politically incorrect, is well-suited to older teens and adults.
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