Graphic Novels Reading Rainbow
Tale of Sand by Ramón K. Pérez (after a screenplay by Jim Henson and Jerry Juhl). Color by Ian Herring.

Tale of Sand by Ramón K. Pérez (after a screenplay by Jim Henson and Jerry Juhl). Color by Ian Herring.

1. review by Ben.  Sorry .. this ended up being super long!!  I hope someone actually reads it. 

2. Synopsis.  MAJOR SPOILERS:  Tale of Sand tells the story of average guy Mac’s nightmarish run from various kinds of danger in a desert as he tries to find a light for his cigarette.   The graphic novel is based on a never quite completed screenplay and unrealized film project begun by Jim Henson (yes, the Sesame Street / Fraggle Rock guy) in the mid-to-late-1960s along with fellow puppeteer and writer Jerry Juhl.  The foreword to the book describes how at this time Henson was experimenting, creating films with stream-of-consciousness-like narratives — quick cuts between scenes and odd juxtapositions creating a dreamlike flow.  These film projects (including the short film Time Piece, 1965 and hour-long surreal drama The Cube, 1969) explored themes of alienation, with characters out of place or stuck within the modern world, alone in crowds, threatened by industrialization, etc. They are intended to be humorous and absurdist, and Tale of Sand is very much along that line as well.  But Tale of Sand was never completed as a film. Drafts of the screenplay were completed and revised (even into the mid-1970s), but it seems Henson and Juhl left it behind as they became increasingly immersed in other projects like The Muppet Show (by 1976).  Now,  Ramón Pérez has taken up the challenge of making from the screenplay a graphic novel.

It is set in the desert and I liked to think of it sometimes as though we have zoomed in on a Salvadore Dalí painting, able now to see the characters up close.  And it is a story which, as Juhl put it, is about a person who is trapped in a situation and thinks he got out, but he discovers that he didn’t.  Mac finds himself amidst a riotous jazzy party in the streets of a small Western town, where he is inexplicably paraded through the streets on the shoulders of local partygoers.  A first uneasy moment comes when Mac catches a glimpse of the local barber, face in the shadows and wearing an eye-patch, as he realigns his straight razor on a strop. Mac is brought before an Andy Griffith-like (aged to Matlock years) sheriff Tate who gives him a cigarette —- failing to light it —- and a map, with some perhaps-untrustworthy advice on how to follow it and ‘be safe.’  Mac is informed he’ll have a head start and the town cheers him on, drapes his neck with a lei, gives him a giant key and backpack with some useful items presumedly… and screams at him to Run!  (At this point reading it I was thinking it was like the Hunger Games some 40 years earlier, but it ends up being not at all similar thankfully).

Mac starts a frenzied run but soon needs a rest.  A man follows in the distance as Mac tries to light his cigarette and explores the contents of his backpack. Just as Mac lights a match it gets shot from his fingers and he must flee again.  Interestingly, Pérez breaks momentarily from the narrative sequence with some self-referentiality at this point.  He shows Mac scratching his head as he walks by a cup of coffee next to an open manuscript sitting on an outcropping of rock.  A single panel follows, depicting an area of Henson’s script that was crossed out by hand with a giant X mark.  There are a few such moments in the book, which pull the viewer out of the narrative and remind him/her that we are reading an adaptation of a screenplay with some perhaps unresolved areas And these moments of distancing were personally some of my favorites as I read through the book, must because I like to think about Bertolt Brecht’s estrangement-effect and Laura Mulvey’s idea of suture (or ‘de-suture’ if I can call it that). I just really like when a story pulls you back and reminds you it is dealing with multiple levels of media and reality.  

From here the story continues to present you with a sampling of mad scenarios: a landscape of bear traps, cartoon bombs, a near fatal car crash from traffic coming out of thin air, a frightening encounter with a lion before it gets shot by an apparently British colonist/safari-hunter in a Pith helmet, an outhouse that descends elevator-like to a 1940s nightclub and so on.  Mac is continually pursued throughout and he tries to light up his cigarette whenever possible.  At one point he finds an abandoned campfire and leans into it, but his hopes sizzle as Smokey the Bear suddenly douses the flame with a bucket of water. Eventually he finds a blonde in a pink bikini, sunbathing next to a pool. On her lap he sees a full pack of smokes and he asks her for a light, but she reaches into her bag and throws a pie in his face, giggling, before pushing him into the pool where a shark promptly attacks.  A lot of the story proceeds in this nonsensical kind of way — and it doesn’t come across as terribly symbolic or profound unfortunately.  Un Chien Andalou it ain’t.  At least with that (the 1929 short film by Luis Buñuel and Salvador Dalí) you can make the whole thing out to be all code for a guy wanting to be a ‘man’ but really never getting past having to jerk off because women detest him for various reasons, probably because he’s merely a sex-crazed busy-handed wannabe rapist.  This, I’m not too sure…. it’s kind of goofy.   In Un Chien Andalou, moments are a bit more memorable.  The male lead attempts to molest the woman while her breasts and buttocks morph into one-another and his blue-balls-masturbatory-impulses are hinted at by his hand stuck in the door with ants crawling all over his palms and by his having to haul around dead donkeys on a piano (that’s some aching frustration at not getting laid!).  Later his mouth skins over and grows armpit hair and ‘his girl’ mocks him by smearing lipstick generously over her own lips and sticking out her tongue to emphasize his inability to do any such thing (and hinting generally at his impotency in various arenas), before she walks out on him to another studlier man.  Of course they’re (their love) also dead by spring so we can all feel some satisfaction in that.  ….definitely more grotesque, unsettling, and uniquely compelling…an artwork filled with images that are seemingly meaningful and which urge you to interpret them. I realize Tale of Sand is trying to be funny, but a pie in the face and a shark attack in a pool after being mocked by a pretty blonde?  There’s also a moment when his nasty eye-patched pursuer pours a martini out of a cement-mixer, but guess what comes out of the cement mixer when Mac tries to get a drink for himself?  Yep, cement.  Hardly going to shake up middle-class values through shock tactics.

Later in the story Mac is nearly killed by a fat Arab shiekh (who also stole his cigarette), but he is saved at the last minute by the US mounted cavalry — who also return his somewhat bent-up cigarette. The Arabs start to chase Mac but they accidentally bump into a team of American football players, which starts a fight but then they too start chasing Mac.  He ends up in an old saloon, confronted by a chatterbox drunkard named Sven who repeatedly tries to betray Mac to his pursuers.  Eventually Mac escapes upstairs to a prostitute (presumedly the same blonde as before but with a subtly varied appearance).  He has no money, she screams, and he gets captured and is nearly hung before a sheriff has Mac untied. He must face a duel with the eye-patched pursuer.  Mac manages to escape the situation and a dramatic car chase ensues, all ending with the explosion of a nitroglycerine tanker. Will it be enough to stop the pursuit of the eye-patched stalker who wishes to brutally kill Mac? Will Mac ever get to have that delicious smoke he so craves?  How will Mac ever escape this crazy situation, or is there any possibility for escape at all?  You’ll have to read the ending for yourself. But I can tell you it seems to do a little Groundhog Day thing at the end.

3. description.  Pérez has really done an amazingly beautiful job drawing this book.  Though it is set against a desert landscape, the text is far from minimalistic.   You can tell from the description that there is just a ton of stuff going on.  I found myself thinking quite a lot about all the various things Pérez had to draw.  It’s a constantly-changing set of characters and objects with most scenes heavily populated and full of energy, conflict, tons of diagonals and geared-up facial expressions.  Everything about the story is ‘fast.’  It’s a story about running and about the brutal need to get away from something and get TO something.  Pérez has done a great job servicing that story.  Even his drawn, montage-like text for the sound effects adds to the energy.. Pok, Kapow, Snap, BOOM, VROOOM, SPLOOSH, tamp tamp tamp, Mrooar, Chunga Chunga, and so on.  Beyond that there are a number of other sophisticated devices in play including some bleed panels that push you, the viewer, close into Mac’s space and him into yours making it feel all the more immediate. Pérez uses a lot of forced one-point perspective throughout too, which often made me think it would  be well-suited to having been drawn for reading while wearing 3D glasses — a lot of the book projects and penetrates outward toward you and things fly perpendicular to the page at your eye-level.  One of the more obvious examples of this is the military tank splash page with extreme foreshortening everywhere.. it’s fabulous and I spent a long time looking at it.   …If all that weren’t enough, the book has also been exquisitely colored by Ian Herring along with Pérez.   I found myself thinking that if I was teaching an advanced graphic storytelling course I would require students to read this book with their color wheels in hand and figure out just what is going on color-wise.  It’s got a series of fabulous limited palette color schemes set against a lot of white background, meaning usually it’ll be white along with one or two colors…. often compliments or near compliments or maybe analogous or split-compliment, etc. ..he likes pairing cool and warm colors and most every color ends up being muted ever so slightly so yellows become mustards and purples become lavender and so on.  Like I said, it’s complicated and changes from page to page but if you’re thinking about how to do color use this book as a model.   It’s a lush, impressive work of art visually and Pérez is quite a powerhouse.   He also does a beautiful job manipulating text, from the Henson typed script, into backgrounds and negative spaces.  It creates a delightful texture.  A couple pages in particular are to die for (like the scene with Sven in the bar where we see a red silhouette behind Mac with screenplay text all over the page… gorgeous. It is reminiscent of both David Carson (the postmodern graphic designer) and Dave McKean (in Cages)

4. intention. What is the intention of this book (which was supposed to be a movie)?  That’s a very good question.  We know Henson had an interest in the theme of alienation.  But he’s pursuing that theme some 10 to 30 years later than other artists, such as the American Social Realists like Edward Hopper especially.  A number of various other artists were dealing with it since well prior to WWII and it persisted up to someone like George Segal in the 1960s for sure.  Even Pop Art can be seen as discussing alienation in a realist tradition.   Certainly Hopper resonates with Surrealism and certainly Henson is attempting a kind of surrealism here.  But it’s a ‘late’ kind of Surrealism and one that seems somewhat redundant… especially given that Salvadore Dalí was himself still alive in the 1960s doing some Nuclear Mysticism and work anticipating Pop Art and, in any case, you can’t beat Dalí at being a Surrealist, can you?  Or maybe it’s not youthful, derivative work at all simply dismissed at ‘pre-mature Henson before the Fraggle Rock thing’ … no, maybe it *anticipates* something like Terry Gilliam doing The Crimson Permanent Assurance or Brazil  in the 1980s or certainly, far later, Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas.  That’s a freaky desert story too.   I don’t know… I don’t think I can give it that much credit.

But… this still doesn’t answer the question of intention.  That’s more about style and relevance. Is it a statement about smoking?  The desire for a cigarette seems to be a big part of it, or at least Mac not being able to light it is just a running gag.  …  The desire for cigarettes sets you down a dangerous path fraught with the repetition of that desire and forever deferred fulfillment.  Seems too easy.     What about time and incongruity?  We start out in the ‘old west’ (sorta, it’s a kind of mash-up of the 1930s or 40s and the old west or south west).  All technological or industrial parts of the story are potentially dangerous to Mac… cars, weapons…  but so are animals (the shark, a lion) and so are people (the man following him, the blonde, the Arabs, Sven, the footballers)….and in the end it’s machinery that ends up saving Mac.  He gets away because of the use of a car and nitroglycerine seems to seriously hurt his pursuer.  Other times in the story too people save him rather than hurt him.   Mixed messages… seemingly not very at-odds with the industrialized world.  In the end we find out that Mac’s pursuer actually IS Mac and this revelation causes the pursuer to blow away like sand and a stopwatch to fall to the ground and crack.  Turn the page and we see that the blonde woman was actually Mac as well.  She unzips her body down the middle to reveal a shirtless Mac, ‘causing the ‘real’ Mac to run away in terror —- before it all starts over again with the party in the street, the cigarette (lit this time), and the chase about to begin again.  Why, when he comes face to face with himself in a raw, unmasked form (twice) does he run away?  Is his inability to directly confront his own haunting problems the cause of the nightmarish repetition?     ….

I’m tempted to give it a kind of pyscho-sexual reading as well.  The landscape of the desert being a metaphor for Mac’s own journey toward sexual fulfillment. At the beginning the Andy Griffith sheriff, a fatherly figure, gives Mac tools and knowledge, though admittedly it isn’t perfect as he’s just a father, to enter into his adulthood.  He gives Mac a cigarette but Mac is unable to light it.  The failure to ignite the cigarette represents his immature sexuality and impotency.  Meanwhile, the fatherly sheriff has no trouble lighting his own pipe, which he holds smokily in his mouth as Mac watches ineptly.  But Mac is ready, or he is forced to be ready, and he must venture forth.  All cheer him on as he runs away toward his future.  Mac falters when he sits to try to light the cigarette again by himself (clearly readable as masturbation — smoking itself can be thought of as auto-fellatio if a cigarette can be read as a penis).  His unconscious stalks him in the guise of the eye-patched man and threatens him, forcing Mac to search elsewhere for the ‘light.’ The giant key to the city he is carrying is broken soon afterward by a bear trap, representing the dashing of false hopes or the idea that his journey will be easy and that the world will await him with open arms.   As Mac sleeps he dreams of his eye-patched stalker sharing a romantic evening and champagne with a beautiful blonde woman.  He must find this woman as she can answer his longings, so he would believe.  Upon awakening Mac rushes forward.  But he is thrown into the air by a passing car.  He tries to hitchhike, but cannot get a lift.  Meanwhile, a turtle crosses the busy street unscathed.  Clearly, being over-eager can lead to shooting your wad too soon, take it easy like the turtle.    Mac uses a resource, a stop-sign gifted to him by his father.   This is his advantage in life — his privilege — and a limo does in fact stop for him.  But rather than being greeted with open arms and riches, a devouring lion springs forth and attacks Mac.  Soon the lion destroys the stop-sign, before it is killed by a Britisher in a Pith Helmet, clearly representing a taming down of societal privilege and the exclusion of Mac — he is to take the hard road not easy street.    Just then Mac finds an outhouse — that’s about in his league it would seem: shitty and low.   But even that’s beyond him.  When he opens the door he finds a maître d’ and is forced to peep through a knot-hole onto a scene of glamor with a beautiful female lounge singer.  Of course Mac’s alter-ego, his unconscious, the eye-patched man gets into the club with no problem — but when Mac tries it disappears into the landscape leaving him to walk on.

Mac tries to light his cigarette again (masturbate), but Smokey the Bear comes and literally throws cold water over him. While gripping onto a phallic telescope Mac sees a man in the distance running at top speed, carrying with a pick a large block of ice as it rapidly melts.  He brings it to the blonde by the pool and drops it into her glass (of wine).  Mac has chased along too, arriving at the bikini-clad blonde. … The block of ice is interesting.   It could be seen as a substitute for the cold bucket of water that doused Mac’s sexual urges —- those now being taken up and rushed to the blonde. She immediately brings the compacted block of id to her lips and consumes it, making her the carrier of sexual power.  Mac sees a pack of cigarettes lying on her upper thigh, approximately upon her genitals.  The back is torn open and two cigarettes emerge slightly, suggesting the arousal of her clitoris.  Mac pulls out his own cigarette, holds it erect and boldly asks the beautiful woman for a light.  She instead pelts him in the face with a pie, substituting for the much hoped-for ‘cum shot’ on her face Mac would love to see.  His cigarette gets bent and she laughs at him mockingly, rejecting him outrightly by pushing him into the pool where a shark comes and attacks him — the shark being Mac’s own self-loathing at his profound inadequacy.  Mac loses part of his shoe in the battle with the shark, suggesting the road forward will become even more difficult to walk for Mac.

Meanwhile, the pretty blonde phones Mac’s eye-patched stalker, as he stands in overly large pants that suggest an extremely superior erection ability over Mac himself.  The eye-patched man walks away, supporting himself on an umbrella or third leg, obviously another reference to a gigantic dragging penis.  He celebrates himself, as does all of the modern world at its most advanced, by allowing a cement mixer to pour him a martini complete with green olive.  But when Mac tries to get his own drink from the well of good fortune, it poops out a huge glob of cement leaving Mac wading in it.  He has to clean his feet as a party of wealthy golfers come by to play through.  It’s an elderly bunch of ladies sporting Victorian-style dresses.  They say, “that young man has found your golf ball” … “…that was very sweet of you. We’ve been looking for Clara’s ball for ever so long” and the woman, Margery, leaves Mac with an emergency whistle.   This is the gift of matriarchy, of his mother.  She too, like the fatherly figure of the sheriff has given him some tools to move forward in life if would seem.  And the fact that he has ‘found her ball’ suggests this: that Mac feels rewarded by his mother after the prospect of her sexual gratification, caused by himself.  Mac moves forward into strange territory populated by odd animals (all of them are phallic: turtle with a huge vertical jutting shell, wolf howling with face pointing upward, various column-like rock formations, a snake, birds with wings upward, and a couple prairie dogs — one of them distinctly shaped like a cock and balls which sits on a triangular or vaginal formation of rock) and an hourglass and hands of the clock with a bulbous spade as a hand. 

Mac finds an old record player which materializes physically objects referred to by its sounds — so a stampede record brings forth a bunch of bleating oxen and the ‘explosions’ record conjures the eye-patched stalker as he drives a WWII tank.  It don’t get much more phallic than a tank… it’s the ultimate penis extension, and that dramatic splash page juts the phallus forward right into the space of the viewer, meanwhile knocking Mac down and causing him to raise him arm up in a terrorized desperate attempt to ward off the threat.  Then, it explodes, throwing Mac violently through the air.  If we needed anything to reinforce the idea that Mac is relatively inadequate but that he has a lot of pent up urges, then there you go.  Wet dreams ‘r’ us.

Following on, Mac is captured by the Arabs, the fat shiekh sitting on a bed of pillows in his harem while two beauties fan him with large feathers, the kind you might tickle someone with during a sex game in bed.  He grins and steals Mac’s cigarette, and after a panel of him sensually bringing the tip to his lips, he starts to smoke it.  Mac looks at first very surprised (this would be his penis afterall) and then he punches the shiekh in the gut in a very macho way, causing the cigarette to burst from his mouth —- Mac catches it in midair, regaining possession of his manhood.  But the shiekh, it seems, will not take no for an answer.  Mac is tied with ropes all over his body and hung upsidedown on one side of an enormous ‘scale’ contraption, balanced on the other side by the fat shiekh, sat spread-eagle on a comfy chair as he smokes at Mac’s cigarette (masturbates excitedly or performs fellatio on Mac) before a large crowd.  He forces Mac to watch him as he sucks greedily on Mac’s cigarette and lights it a few times.  Above Mac is a bucket, into which the crowd can throw in rocks.  Mac’s side will become heavier, causing him to gradually lower into the deadline machine that has been placed under him.  It has a series of knives and blades and will turn Mac into hamburger. This is all, presumedly, unless Mac submits willingly to the shiekh, which is to enter into homosexuality.  Mac uses the tool given to him by his mother, the emergency whistle and escapes (thus reaffirming his own robust heterosexuality).  In comes the cavalry, a bunch of John Wayne-type horse-riders with guns and swords who stand very erect and clearly don’t swing both ways.   They attempt to massacre the decadent and perverted Arabs.  Their general gives Mac back his cigarette, and Mac smiles goonishly, stands up, tucks the cigarette back into his shift pocket to conceal it, and begins to run again.     After Mac leaves the scene, we hear a director calling “CUT” and find out this has all been a movie set.  The phallic set pieces start getting hauled away and packed up into a truck.  The cavalry and Arabs relax, one lights a cigar, and what we at-first assumed to be a beautiful harem girl turns out to be a man in drag.  He, still wearing the belly-dance costume, smiling coquettishly, puts her arm around the ‘director’ (who strongly resembles Henson).  The in drag character pulls out a wad of hundred-dollar bills from between his ‘breasts’ and hands it to the director.  It’s a puzzling moment… suggesting prostitution.  But when you notice that the gender-bending character is the eye-patched stalker, it would seem to indicate perhaps a lingering bisexuality or homosexuality, that Mac’s id was fundamentally grateful for an overtly homosexual experience and willing to have paid for it.

Some of the Arabs apparently don’t realize this was all a movie set, and they continue to chase Mac. But they tumble into an American football team. Homosexuality versus Heterosexuality. It becomes an all-out battle.  Mac watches, aghast at the chaos, and finally gives them all pause by finding a light-switch on the landscape and flicking it on and off a few times — causing everything to go dark and allowing Mac to escape.  The ‘teams’ search for him angrily.  Which one will take him as captive?   He flees to a ghost town and enters into a decrepit saloon.  This is where he meets the talkative and untrustworthy Mernly, who calls himself Sven.  Our first glimpse of sven is him chugging a bottle of alcohol with pinkie extended upward in the air, clearly a ‘gay’ way to drink in a very manly bar.  He also wears a kerchief and tasseled vest — which I suppose could be read either way in a Western. The text-heavy montage follows and the bold, enlarged words on it read somewhat suggestively: “I tried to get him .. men are drifters .. throat like a greased snake .. the back is stocked” etc. as Sven apparently recalls a salesman from Vancouver he knew and a Winnebago trip with him.  Mac looks uneasy.  On the front of things the footballers and Arabs are chasing him and Mac needs Sven to be quiet.   Sven offers to hide Mac and he leads him into a hiding area he describes as a place he has used many times himself — clearly a kind of closet. …obviously an important space in Queer Theory.  Sven tells Mac to go ahead and get in the closet.  …And as Mac starts to go in he says, “Don’t tell them about this!” Sven reassures him he won’t blab, but of course immediately upon seeing the two teams burst into the saloon Sven says ‘He’s in there.” 

Turns out it wasn’t a closet at all, but a hopping Western bar with a dancing girl and various prostitutes milling about.  Mac tries to blend into the crowd, but soon leaves, going back out to Sven.  Sven starts talking about what ‘smart guys’ he thinks Arabs are, and how he never liked football players much — expect for one football player who he describes as an Arab, called “Abut Ben Tittle” with the word “Bent” right in the name.  The teams pursue Mac again as he once again goes into the closet/bar. Soon a huge bar fight breaks out after Mac tackles an Arab, causing sufficient distraction for him to slink away.  Sven greets him again, discussing Bernie O’Brien, who was imprisoned over obscenity charges related to postcards, the question being whether they were ‘pornography’ or ‘art.’ Sven, of course, agreed with Bernie that they were ‘art.‘  …and the Mapplethorpe case hadn’t even happened yet when Henson was writing this!  Oh boy.

Mac finds his way into a prostitutes (the blonde woman again) boudoir upstairs.  She says from behind a screen, “I wasn’t expecting you.”  Mac has his knife out, apparently ready to use it on her.  She strokes the tip of it before taking it away from him.  Then, no sex, but instead she threatens to betray his whereabouts to the ‘teams’ unless he pays her off.  But since Mac only has six dollars, she screams.  In burst the two teams, onto a spalsh page with Mac struggling with the blonde on the ground on a hairy rug, he between her spread legs as though he is raping her.  This guy just can’t get it right.. He can’t seem to get himself off, he’s straight but impotent, he’s gay but not so sure, he’s just trying to get away and figure it all out and maybe go into the closet but he gets mistaken for a rapist.  So, turn the page, he’s on a horse with a rope around his neck about to be hung for his crimes.  I don’t think it’s auto-erotic asphyxiation related.  Society has condemned Mac.  Everyone on all teams wants to see this guy hang.. he just can’t fit in anywhere.  He’s a complete sexual deviant.    But, along comes another sheriff who announces, “…you can’t lynch a man just because he’s a low, yellow-bellied cheatin’, thievin’ rapist!”  Oddly accepting attitude for the psychoanalytical and legal institutions in an old-western setting.  But this character of the sheriff is Mac himself… at his most primitively sexual (the guy looks like a hog on the rut).  This is suggested subtly in the drawings on the page.  The sheriff’s face strongly resemble’s Mac’s own.  His eyebrows are near identical, his mustache his echoed in a shadow on Mac’s face, Mac’s hair and cowlick flip upward at the same angle as the Sheriff’s cowboy hat, his stubble reappears identically on Mac, etc.  So it’s Mac granting himself another chance.  He’s got to face his unconscious.  In comes the eye-patched stalker for a duel. 

The stalker holds his gun very erect and polishes it to a gleam as Mac hesitantly fumbles his gun as it limply droops down.  The duelists face one-another.  Unbeknownst to Mac a squadron of snipers and machine-gunners lie on a rooftop with him in their sights.  Mac draws and fires, but his gun is merely a cap gun, ‘pop pop pop.’ Completely ineffectual, the eye-patched stalker giggles. He shoots, so do the snipers, and Mac somehow manages to jump away from the barrage of bullets. He runs back into the saloon for another encounter with Sven…. who tells him of a bicycle that might aid his escape… and off he goes.  Mac soon comes across a car dealership where he manages to buy a pathetically rusted car for six dollars.   He’s back to how he started this journey: poor, unprivileged, degraded.  Up comes his pursuers — both teams along with the blonde and eye-patched stalker.  They’re all rich apparently, easily able to buy luxury cars which they use to chase after Mac.  The blonde and the eye-patched stalker cuddle up gleefully in their Rolls Royce.    Mac drives over a snake just before his engine bangs with an explosion and catches on fire.  Mac leans out of the car to try to light his cigarette on the flaming hood of the car.  But it seems to not light and disappears back into this shirt presumedly.  Soon, he drives over a cliff leaving his car a rubble heap.

Meanwhile, the eye-patched stalker has cut off all other pursuers and has dropped off the blonde as well.  He goes on alone, driving over the cliff as well.  Like a dandy Mary Poppins he glides through the air to safety using his umbrella as a parachute. Mac steals a nitroglycerine truck, the eye-patched stalker steals a firetruck.  All the other pursuers are back now as well.  Mac crashes his truck into a pond where a hippopotamus is bathing.  Somehow or another Mac is going to get his massive, long overdue explosion and when it happens the eye-patched stalker will be there with his firetruck to help cool things down.  Mac’s primal urges are on overdrive and now it’s up to the eye-patched stalker to regulate matters. BOOM!  The only survivor to emerge from the explosion is old one-eye.  He stumbles, he’s barely made it. Mac looks calm now. He’s shot his wad. He’s not in need any longer of a sublimating force, so the one-eyed man blows away in the wind (back down into Mac’s subconscious).  Next time Mac needs to get his rocks off he’ll come back up.  He’s a balancing force for Mac’s sexuality, regulating his tastes and keeping him somewhat in line so he doesn’t do anything too crazy.

But we’re left wondering… how exactly did Mac achieve his orgasm?   Up walks the blonde, through the blaze.  Was she real afterall, did he actually have sex?  As she unzips her skin and reveals she was Mac along we have our answer.  Mac’s beauty was all a fantasy, himself all along — so it was masturbation that did it.  The second panel of this page also suggests so, her arm and hand are inexplicably drenched and dripping liquid.   Mac finds it difficult to confront himself and prefers to cling to the fantasy, so he runs away from the reality of it.  His shoes miraculously heal up.  He’s ready to take the journey again.  We turn the page and the party starts over once again. Mac pulls out the cigarette from his pocket and easily manages to find a light this time.  He’s an old hand, no pun intended, at this game now and easily able to smoke his own cigarette this time around.    …. 

5 & 6. strengths & weaknesses.  I have written way too much already.

7. recommendation.  I’d recommend this book to students interested in color.  I’d recommend it to anyone who likes Surrealism and who wants to play around with figuring out what a story might mean.  It ended up being a surprisingly satisfying and weirdly meaningful book for me.  Initially I had no idea what it might be about.. now I think it’s about jerking off. That’s a great topic, especially from Jim Henson. 

8. other books.  Ramón Pérez’s biography at the end of this book reveals that he has worked for Archaia, Marvel, DC, Dark Horse, Owl Kids, Scholastic Canada, McClelland & Stewart, Lucasarts, Epitome Pictures, Hasbro, Wizards of the Coast, Clorox, Palladium, etc. … doing covers for various comics and work on RPG games as well as children’s books and ad work, etc.  Check out his independent work Butternutsquash and Kukuburi.  He’s a talented guy and I’d love to see more graphic novels from him. 

9. rating.  4/5 stars.  It’s very good but not terribly enjoyable to read and at first glance it seems pretty goofy and silly.  Even thinking about it more deeply didn’t make the story altogether more excellent for me.  Pérez’s artwork is the definite highlight of this book. 

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