Page 45 Review by Stephen
Hello, and welcome back to another attack of the dead who are well read, the bodies that begat break-throughs, and the worm-riddled women who were once a lot less lived in.
I guarantee 100% Putrefaction Satisfaction, as well as whole lot of learning.
I reviewed at coffin-creaking length and in burial depth CORPSE TALK: GROUND-BREAKING SCIENTISTS, the two previous volumes, plus these very creators' LOST TALES, all of which you can find along with so much in Page 45's Phoenix Comic Book Section.
Having exhausted my musings on the craft of these two crazies - and the ever-so-clever conceit of interviewing reanimated corpses with modern-day irreverence rather than simply dishing out lacklustre history lessons - I'm going to resort this time to succinct bullet points in the hope of satisfying those with Attention Deficit Disorder (which is basically the entire human race in this multi-channel / internet age), then I'm going to have me some fun with Princess Caraboo's interactive exercise on creating your own real-life fictional character. It's not as much of a paradox as it may sound.
But first, the bullet points:
The cartooning is exquisite. Just glance at Adam Murphy's puckered mouth and eyebrows, and those hands, hands, hands, bringing so much to gesticulatory life during the talking heads sequences!
Each page contains even more unnecessary alliteration than my longest-lasting reviews.*
* An independent analysts protests
These books are 100% historically and scientifically accurate, packed with hard facts which you could honestly pass exams on. (Caveat: apart from the bit about Adam ever interviewing a single one of these spectral specimens, let alone any lesser-known cadavers for pastime pleasure. Oh, and Granny Nanny's precise details on buggering up the Jamaican slave trade which were passed down through the oral traditional - bit more of a mythology, that, but she sure showed the culprits what's what. Princess Pocahontas' legend will come into a much needed de-Disneyfication, though!)
They are laugh-out-loud funny with anachronistic banter from the bone idols ("Not chuffing likely!") and puns galore including 'The Sails of the Century' and 'A Killer Look'.
This collection of overwhelmingly new material also reprints the Queen Elizabeth pages from CORPSE TALK II which were so rip-roaringly brilliant that I spent the entire first half of that review fixated upon them, especially the double-spread 'A Killer Look' because OMG but Queen Bess didn't do herself any favours whatsoever when it came to keeping young with cosmetics!
Here's Adam introducing Queen Bess:
"This week, one of history's feistiest fighting females! It's the Tudor Tigress, the lean, mean Virgin Queen, Elizabeth I!
"Elizabeth, you might be the world record holder for the most insane family drama of all time!"
Our corpse-questioning host then catalogues what probably is "the most insane family drama of all time" by hailing two Marys (sister and cousin), a furious father bent on beheading (Henry VIII: amongst those on the chopping block, Liz's own mum), family fights over the throne, further bumpings-off and finally Philip II of Spain, former husband to her dead sister, asking for Betty's hand in marriage, then not taking rejection too well. Most young men would have slunk off sheepishly and ordered in pizza. Philip II ordered out the Spanish bloody Armada! Elizabeth:
"First we blasted them with cannons! Then we sailed shops of fire into them! Then God got in on the action, and stormed them to death! Don't mess with The Bess - she gon' open up a can of whoop-ass!"
You may have noticed that I haven't quite grasped the concept of "bullet points".
So we finally return to Princess Caraboo (1791-1864) who appeared penniless on the doorstep of one Mrs Worral, the local magistrate's wife in the sleepy Gloucester village of Almondsbury which was about to wake up to its newly arrived, exotic occupant.
Princess Caraboo hailed from they knew not where, to begin with, for she knew not one word of the English language, and so they could not converse. She could mime. She could dance, in an Indian continent way. And she could speak in some foreign tongue which no one could identify until one bright spark suggested the language of Malay and offered to translate. Then they learned of her capture by pirates from the remote Island of Javasu, her bitter ordeals at their hands and her eventual escape, overboard, when Britain's shores were in sight. Oh, how she was paraded and celebrated throughout England's High Society, this regal, oriental princess!
In actual fact, she was a serving maid from Devon called Mary Baker.
All power to her! England 1791-1864: not much chance of a legal leg-up on the social or employment ladder for a woman, as Jane Austen's tale will make clear. Socio-political context is ever so important in examining either history or literature, and the four-page condensation of 'Pride And Prejudice' (which is a triumph of salient points and satire) kicks off with just such a reminder.
So what is my point and where am I going to have some fun? As I've mentioned, each of these trailblazer's tales is followed by a double-page diagrammatical spread whereon we are privileged to witness the extent of their legacy, the science or boat-building skills behind their stories, the details behind the slave-saving underground railroads (no trains, train times or consequent delays involved, how to dance the Charleston as performed, step by step, by none other than Josephine Baker, plus the extraordinary revelation that is the Golden Ratio found throughout nature and denoted by the Greek letter Phi. I actually think that Adam and Lisa did a better job of explaining that than Terry Moore did in his tension-drenched ECHO.
The 'Brief History Of Women's Rights' timeline is given a full six pages, which is only right given the subject of this volume and the appalling length of time it took for women to actually achieve some.
And so at last to the fun!
Following Princess Caraboo's wool-over-eyes antics, Lisa and Adam forsake their customary post-mortem spread for an interactive opportunity to hone your own lying skills, and to create your own real-life counterfeit / deceit with the help of some very silly suggestions from themselves. Before that, however, 'Try Writing Down Your Translations For These Common Words'
I'm hungry: Give'till monaye
Thank you: Multi monaye!
Good-bye forever: Theresa-May
There's plenty more, but you get the idea, and I'm sure you can do better!
Out March 1st 2018.