Monday, 19 May 2014

The Cigar That Fell in Love with a Pipe Review (David Camus, Nick Abadzis)

Orson Welles receives a box of delectable cigars to celebrate the release of his latest movie, The Lady from Shanghai, and realises that these are the last cigars created by the greatest cigar roller of all time, Conchita Marquez. In a smoky haze, Welles recounts Conchita’s brief life and bizarre afterlife that sees her soul imprisoned in her cigars and her lover’s in a pipe! 

The Cigar That Fell in Love with a Pipe is as whimsical as its title suggests and from the opening line “Once upon a time…” you know you’re in for a modern-ish fairy tale. True to the genre, writer David Camus eschews any attempt at creating real characters - Conchita’s boss/husband is as cartoonishly wicked as any villain Charles Perrault dreamt up - and of course the story is magical realist at best, so it’s hard to critique the usual narrative elements. 

But like a lot of fairy tales, this book is a very light read and, barring any real message/moral, leaves little impression on the reader. You’ll read this in one sitting but will you remember it a month later? Unlike many of SelfMadeHero’s recent releases, no. Conchita’s life was tragic for the most part but quite one-dimensional. 

It’s still enjoyable in parts and Orson Welles’ turbulent relationship with his then-wife Rita Hayworth was fun as the two fought over Welles’ cigar consumption (he was a true lover of them). I also get a strong Disney flavour to the book - the enchanted objects recalled the characters in Beauty and the Beast while Rita’s mischievous nephew felt like Sid from Toy Story. But by far the best part of the book is Nick Abadzis’ lovely artwork. 

All of the pages look amazing but the splash pages in particular stand out, where Conchita’s soul leaves her earth-bound body and soars across the globe, revelling in sights and places she would never see outside of her dreams. Vibrant and colourful, they conveyed a powerful sense of freedom, and those last few wordless pages? The perfect ending. 

If you’re looking for an amusing and unusual fairy tale with wonderful art, and of course enjoy non-superhero comics, give this book a chance to entertain you. If nothing else, you can’t say that this is another retread of “that old cigar roller becomes a cigar and her sailor lover becomes a pipe” storyline!

The Cigar That Fell In Love With A Pipe

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