The Red Monkey Double Happiness Book, the second North American release by South African cartoonist Joe Daly, presents two stories of oddball intrigue featuring his monkey pawed cartoonist hero Dave and his slacker buddy Paul. “The Leaking Cello Case” starts things off and introduces us to Dave’s world. While struggling with another soul crushing design job, Dave crosses paths with a shifty and belligerent new tenant in his building. While getting to the bottom of sounds coming from the tenant’s apartment, things take a turn for the weird and Dave gets in over his head.
The book gets stronger by the second story, “John Wesley Harding,” both in story and art. The art is cleaner, almost Hergélike at points and the story goes off the rails and flows into a stream of consciousness. A search for a missing capybara leads Dave and Paul to investigate a potential real estate conspiracy and things just get more twisted from there. It’s not unlike The Big Lebowski, throwing the hapless main character into an overwhelming predicament that gets more surreal and hilarious as it progresses. The story is a tad too liberal in its use of the word “dude,” but that’s a minor quibble. Nevertheless, continued strong work by a cartoonist worth checking out. (Matthew Daley)
by Joe Daly, $22.99 US, 112 pgs, Fantagraphics Books Inc., 7563 Lake City Way NE, Seattle, WA, 98115, USA, fantagraphics.com