A story about the cycle of violence that envelops two families and a local park they share is the subject of the latest graphic novel from Oscar Zarate (A Small Killing). A small incident in which a newspaper columnist’s (in the classic Ron Liddle mode) dog bites a failed musician in a London park, soon escalates out of control when neither party accepts blame, nor apologises. This resentment spirals further when individual members of the family also take an opportunity to busy themselves with the incident and get involved any way they can, slashing car tyres, making anonymous phone calls and pushing people into lakes.
It’s interesting that Zarate frames his story with footage from Laurel and Hardy films, specifically ‘You’re Darn Tootin’ which is a similar tale of violence and escalation, although obviously played directly for laughs. The Park begins to shape up as a classic farce, but soon takes the form of something far more dramatic.
The story is primarily about cycles, whether that be the musician, constantly watching Laurel and Hardy (and being interrupted at the exact same moment every time), or the dog’s habit of biting people. There’s a rather telling moment in which Zarate spells it out for the reader late on in the book, when Hardy turns to the viewer and says:
“But it never ends. There’s always one more provocation.”
Which encapsulates the plot in a nutshell. This book is a microcosm of conflicts, with beautifully crafted characters, smart dialogue and excellent plotting. This isn’t the case throughout, a sub-plot about a female street artist working on sabotaging a train carrying nuclear waste doesn’t quite hit the mark, but there is more than enough to enjoy here.
It would be remiss to avoid talking about the art too, as Zarate once again shows himself to be a master of expression and colour. His watercoloured pages are utterly gorgeous to view, with perfectly lit day and night scenes (there’s a particularly strong page midway through the story coloured in pink hues).
Any Cop? An excellent graphic novel which fuses Greek tragedy and farce. Brilliant stuff.