THE BIG BLUE

This ninth collection of Alan Henderson’s sublime The Penned Guin online strips comes with a bright red cover. So given the title of this book whether that makes you smile or not will pretty much dictate if you’ll enjoy the contents. If you’re not familiar with these 3 or 4 panel cartoon strips the conceit is simple – the cast are almost always penguins, and the jokes are almost always daft. Some of the gags groan under their own weight – this is a man who shamelessly recycles what falls out of his Christmas crackers – but there’s also genuine inventiveness here that displays a great comic genius. The occasional penguin inspired homages are a delight, but it’s the regular strips that break the fourth wall which are my personal favourites, where Henderson bends, warps and finally shatters the comics format itself to provide some truly surreal humour.  Heartily recommended.

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Steve Tanner