I bumped into my mate Ste on the way home from work the other night and (alongside telling me about a recent Badly Drawn Boy gig and a performance of the movie Venus introduced by Leslie Phillips – Ding-dong!) he mentioned a graphic novel he’d picked up the previous week that he thought I’d like. This is a little Stephen story and it tells you a lot about him. He was on his way home from somewhere or other when he felt the need to dash to the loo. Waterstones was handy so Ste popped in and made use of the utilities, as it were. On emerging from the loo, however, Ste felt somewhat guilty (having used the facilities without strictly speaking buying anything). Which is when Fluffy caught his eye. He had a quick read of the first few pages and thought, yes sir, this was a book for him. You should know – from the outset – that Ste is not like me (and quite possibly you). He doesn’t buy a lot of books and he reads hardly anything new (Ste likes to read battered old paperbacks he picks up from second hand shops, John Wyndham and the like). So his purchasing a new book is a rare occurrence. Him purchasing a new book and heartily recommending it is rarer still.
What of Fluffy itself, however? Well, it’s a graphic novel, as I said, originally published in four parts (and now collected by those nice people at Jonathan Cape) oncerning a young man called Michael Pulcino. Michael Pulcino and his rabbit, Fluffy. Michael Pulcino lives in London and works as an architect and is trying to wriggle out of a relationship with a woman who works at the nursery where Fluffy is sent each day. You kind of get the impression that Michael Pulcino is a little sad (not sad ‘what a loser’, more sad ‘unhappy’). Fluffy is a bit like a four year old. In that she asks questions a lot. She asks Michael (her daddy, she says) if she will have hair like him when she grows up. He says no. She’s a rabbit. Cue: I am not a rabbit! Over the course of the book, Michael and Fluffy visit Michael’s mum and dad and sister and fiance in Sicily. Some of the book is narrated by a happy dust particle. Some of the book is narrated by a rather angry fleck of dandruff. Sometimes we are privvy to the inner workings of Michael Pulcino’s mind. Like I say, it’s very cute.
Ste thought that, much as he enjoyed the book, I’d get even more of a kick out of it because I was a parent and a lot of the humour of Fluffy arises as a result of the interplay between grown-up and, in Fluffy, ostensible child. But there’s something else I think about Fluffy too. You know how graphic novels tend (I’m saying ‘tend’, don’t be offended) to be the province of boys? I think Fluffy is the kind of book you could maybe give to a girl who didn’t ‘get’ graphic novels by way of introduction. It’s the kind of book (like Marjane Satrapi’s Persepolis, though for different reasons) that could turn someone on to the whole graphic novels thing. As for me, I have to admit that there were things about Fluffy that I didn’t dig altogether (you can, after all, only take so much cute) but it’s worth reading all the same. There is lots here to like. Lots and lots.
Any Cop?: If you approach this as Miffy for grown-ups (and provided that idea sortof intrigues you), you’ll dig Fluffy, I expect.