Page 45 Review by Stephen
"Imagine no possessions
"I wonder if you can..."
- John Lennon, 'Imagine'
Although its ill-chosen cover resembling a glossy children's health pamphlet which you might find outside your GP's surgery doesn't bode well, what lies within is a side-splittingly subversive series of comics and cartoons which will be spluttered over by devotees of our Lizz Lunney Superstore
Book-ended by two related cartoons - the first of which will prove infinitely funnier once you've read the last - an 'Inventory of John Lennon's Possessions' sits at its centre, requiring just a little more imagination from Ian Larsen than John Lennon evidently mustered when filming the video to 'Imagine' in a vast, white, multimillion-dollar mansion.
Still, if you have an enormous number of possessions you do need an enormous possession to house them in, even if the palatial piano room was cleared to fit the film crew. Here are a few:
Bank Book containing millions of pounds
Table to put drugs and money on
Books on Mao (est. up to 90 million dead during peacetime)
Some of Larsen's satirical lancing is equally short and sweet, like his 'Script Doctors' subtitled 'Previously unseen early drafts of movie treasures', which at their best cut to the quick or make up a memorable moment from which to distil their core essence.
Other objects of disaffection include content-averse TV commissioning editors and producers:
"The thing is, our audience doesn't understand information so can you replace the information with funny ugly people? Yeah."
It's a running gag which grows cumulatively funnier, just like the Berlin music scene 1976 onwards populated by 'David And His Friends' like Lou Reed and Iggy Pop, musing modestly on their place in history:
"Is Lou coming out tonight?"
"No, he's become increasingly grumpy and difficult lately."
"Well you have to give him credit, he is a rock legend."
"I'm a rock legend. We all are."
"You don't have to be aggressive about it."
"Sorry, these German beers are quite strong."
"At least you aren't out of your mind on cocaine anymore."
There's a scathing stab at territorial music devotion coming down on the envious and ill-informed, an alien encounter on Earth, and a cautionary tale about the potential ramifications of changing your worldwide social media profile picture right in the heart of your home.
Half of the humour is the veneer of childlike glee belying the bloody contents beneath it, but be not deceived: Larsen can do such instantly recognisable portraits of the likes of Bill Murray that the joke doesn't need signposting.
For me the most successful comic was the six-page 'Skip Chippington and the Journey Into Disappointment', specifically London 1665 as visited by a time-traveller. It plays to readers' preconceptions of what he will find, how he will be received and the language with which he'll be greeted... before slapping them all upside the head over and over again, along with what a supposedly 17th Century simpleton will make of our own brave new world.
Only such an economy of expression could make the gags work so well, while the silent panels speak volumes.
I may actually leave a copy in my dentist's waiting room.