This is the second book from Mawil to be released by Blank Slate (the first; his very impressive look at young life and relationships; We Can Still Be Friends was reviewed here). But Sparky O’Hare is a completely different book; a cute, charming and ever so funny series of 4 panel strips featuring the adventures of the world’s most incompetent electrician, who just happens to be a rabbit.
Sparky O’Hare is a tiny wee book. Much smaller than I was expecting. Just a few inches each way. Maybe it’s aiming to hit the market as a “the little book of comedy genius”? Because that’s what it is. I haven’t found a funny book to be this funny in a long, long time.
Reviewing a comedy strip like Sparky O’Hare that relies on a very simple set-up and repetition for it’s gags is always a problem, because essentially it can be covered very simply with one line:
Is it funny?
Well the answer here is a resounding yes. Oh yes. Absolutely yes.
Mawil uses a very small cast for this brilliant little comedy, relying at first on the comedy coming from just five characters; the incompetent electrician rabbit who can cause chaos to anything electrical or mechanical just by walking past it, the bumbling boss who genuinely believes his electrician to be the greatest thing since sliced bread and the three secretaries who quickly realise just how terrible Sparky is and that they can find a use for his devastating ways.
(Sparky’s boss – so wonderfully blind to his favourite electrician’s failings. From Mawil’s Sparky O’Hare.)
On the simplest read through it’s just a bloody funny strip, beautifully drawn and full of wonderfully timed gags. But even though that would still be enough to make it worth picking up, there’s a little more to it than that. The gags keep coming thick and fast and once Mawil’s milked everything out of the office situation he cleverly expands the scope of Sparky with a variety of different situations, most memorably sending Sparky and a secretary off to a conference in the Far East – possibly not the best thing to do really, an electrician who’s a complete disaster to every piece of electrical equipment on a plane:
The whole book is packed with a fantastic kinetic comedy and Mawil’s timing is just exquisite. And whilst he always comes back to Sparky’s chaotic effect on any machinery that happens to serve the gag best; photocopiers, computers, aeroplanes, pacemakers, speed cameras and much more, Mawil is very, very clever in the way he approaches each gag. Quite often he actually delivers the punchline slightly early in the strip and uses the final panel to let the gag sink in. It’s simply brilliantly funny, very clever stuff.
I could now go on and on about it but suffice it to say it’s just one of those books that comes with at least a wry smile on each page and usually much more, up to and including uncontrollable ribcage hurting guffaws. And that’s the best recommendation I think I can possibly give.
Just in case you happen to doubt me, there are more samples here on the FPI blog. But we’ve just got time for one more here showing a little bit of the naughty side to Mawil’s Bunny (but never that naughty – just in case you had it earmarked as a nice present for a younger reader the most you get is a little suggestion and a few panels of topless sunbathing in the Majorca strips – so maybe a PG13):
The only problem you might have with this book is actually finding it – such small dimensions means it can easily be lost amongst the crowd on a shelf. If you’re very lucky you’ll be in a shop which has ordered enough to get one of the lovely counter displays. But if not, order in from the FPI webstore here. And then order some more for presents – perfect stuff.
Richard Bruton is convinced the people who fixed his roof are relations of Sparky…