THE TRANSFIGURATION OF MISTER PUNCH By D.P. Watt, Charles Schneider and Cate Gardner, Egaeus Press, h/b £30, www.egaeuspress.com
Reviewed by Matthew Johns
Another masterpiece from Egaeus Press, beautifully bound and illustrated, and one of only 300 copies printed. This compendium of eerie tales is all about everyone’s favourite hook-nosed sociopathic puppet, Mister Punch. Just three stories make up this collection, but all are well-written, suspenseful and do the puppet great justice.
The first, Schneider’s “The Show That Must Never Die” is intriguing – it tells the story of a collector of Punch memorabilia who comes across some mysterious documents hidden inside a brass Punch figurine. These lead him to the understanding that Punch is not just a fictional character, but an undying god-like figure engaged in an unending battle against an ancient foe.
The second, Watt’s “Memorabilia” is told from the point of view of a mysterious collector, who isn’t what he seems, selling some rare Punch artefacts to another collector, with a tale to tell about each one.
The final story, Gardner’s “This Foolish & Harmful Delight” sees an ultra-violent (think A Clockwork Orange) Punch and Judy escaping from Hell to our world accompanied by a couple of other doomed souls. Will the doomed souls escape, and will Punch and Judy get their just desserts?
Punch is a figure that has long captured our imagination, and has appeared in many guises in fiction throughout the ages – these excellent short stories come up with some highly entertaining and thoughtfully-written scenarios to continue to engage and entertain.