Thomas Wogan is Dead by David Hughes

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Thomas Wogan is Dead by David Hughes

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Category: Graphic Novels
Rating: 4.5/5
Reviewer: John Lloyd
Reviewed by John Lloyd
Summary: A quick and charming mix of very English comic quirkiness, animal study, and poignant life story.
Buy? Yes Borrow? Yes
Pages: 88 Date: September 2009
Publisher: Tabella Publishing LLP
ISBN: 978-0955808883

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Well, with a title like that, need I bother with a plot summary? A man has a day out in Morecambe, then the next thing he knows he's in the ultimate waiting room, with a strange array of animals (a bat, a toad, a sea urchin...), all waiting for... well, something. Yup, as you didn't need telling, he's dead.

But while we see his end - and those of all of his new companions, told in their individual flashbacks, we also get his life in fine, considered, comic detail. Here's his appreciation of beans and Marmite on toast, his love of Delia Smith (yes, even in her shouty, footballing moments), and his pontificating about beach volleyball (especially of the female kind).

It's a life that's drawn very well, in just a few words. But of course we also must consider the literal drawing from this graphic novelist. Thomas Wogan has an obscenely large head for his stick-thin cartoonish body, but it's a style that definitely suits. You only have to see his hairline get more and more frazzled as he gets tipsy to know the visual side of things has been thought about with fine care. The animals, if anything, are drawn with even more craft, with a good line embodying, for example, the family of bats.

One very interesting visual detail I spotted, was the cafe sign he walks past on the front cover loses the lettering "£1.50" it has inside. I can only wonder why. This is inescapably English - as English as people being forced to do those self-testing questionnaires in women's magazines in waiting rooms, or bland and inane texts from Mum. Perhaps the publishers thought people would assume that to be the cover charge. It's not - this is clearly worth more than £1.50. It's a very droll drama, which is also somehow oddly humble in the successfully-wrought belly laughs it achieves. It's easily worth one re-read. And beyond that, it is recommended by the Bookbag. Even if we did at first mis-read the character's name as Terry.

I must thank the publishers for my review copy.

For something else only slightly similar, from the same house, try A Day in the Life of Alfred by Oivind Hovland. Or for more domestic and English drollery, head towards I Like My Job by Sarah Herman.

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