The Red Monkey Double Happiness Book may sound like some bizarre Japanese TV show but it is in fact a graphic novel featuring two stories by South African comix artist Joe Daly.
Like a great many graphic novels (graphic novels are in their own way as self-referential as hip hop), Joe Daly – a man with monkey feet, ginger hair, a surfer’s outlook and a stern, hapless expression on his face much of the time – features prominently. You could even say he’s our hero. Over two stories (one short and one long), we are introduced to a small cast of characters (including buddy Paul, the stinky white man of the south and Joe De Marco, the kind of disguise wearing detective who wouldn’t be out of place in Scooby Doo) and a mildly fantastical set of interludes that are half ‘this is what it’s like to live in a different culture’ and half ‘this is a comic and, really, I can do what the Hell I like’ (there is a mysterious man living in an apartment full of frogs in the first story and an underhanded attempt to wipe out a large expanse of natural habitat for the purposes of real estate that involves crooks posing as aliens in the second story).
Daly’s art is interesting, earthy pastel tones helping to create a sort of sun-kissed backdrop against which his figure work recalls Joe Spent (albeit Joe Spent by way of Cheech & Chong or Harold & Kumar). There are some great effects (such as the way he manages to somehow retain his earthy pastel tones even while detailing subdued night-time action), some great chuckle-out-loud writing and the sort of page-turning graphic novel that’ll have you filing the name Joe Daly away for future reference, with a wee Post-It note saying, ‘Make sure to check out anything else this guy gets up to’ attached.
Any Cop?: A real breath of fresh air, an enjoyable way to spend a couple of hours, the kind of graphic novel you’ll want to pass on to your buddies who dig that kind of thing – what more can you ask?