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THE RED MONKEY (THE LEAKING CELLO CASE) (article first published : 2004-01-13)

Artist/writer Joe Daly’s comic story The Red Monkey (The Leaking Cello Case) encapsulates much of the dynamics of the generation that he hails from. In the events that lead up to the grand finale you are given a first-hand account of the dilemmas and enquiries into life that most young adults experience.

The dialogue adds to this appeal, submerging you into Dave’s world of ultra-coolness. We follow Dave closely through his failed design endeavors, the crushing blow he receives when his girlfriend dumps him, his sorry attempts at befriending strangers with leaking cello cases, his best buddy who eats all his cereal and continuously asks for hand-outs, his water-drenched apartment and the banging noise from upstairs that drives him positively insane. To top all of this off, he reveals his nemesis: he has monkey feet.

Growing up with monkey feet has caused him, “Serious psychological scarring” - which ultimately means that our ‘main dude’ also has personal insecurities that he deals with under all of his earthly misfortunes.

Dave’s world begins to spiral. His coolness wears off. He decides in one irrational instance to don a suit-and-tie before going upstairs to investigate the banging. The purpose: to intimidate the resident. The only problem is the resident is an extremely aggressive Mexican who cannot tolerate Dave. Eventually, after the banana (hidden in Dave’s suit pocket to act as a .38 automatic) is discovered, Dave finally sucks up the courage to break into the apartment to discover why the Mexican is so sensitive about questions regarding the noise and leaking cello case.

After monkey-footing up a palm tree to jump in through the window of the Mexican’s apartment Dave discovers an underground operation: namely the breeding of South American cane toads for their hallucinogenic properties …and the transport of them in the Mexican’s cello case.

After an attempt on Dave’s life and the rescue thereof by his cereal-gorging hippy mate Paul, Dave saves the day. The Mexican is arrested and the toads are whisked away by the authorities. Dave and Paul celebrate by eating cereal. And, for the time being, Dave’s cosmic roulette wheel has spun in favour of him.

The story is packed full of twists and (90 degree) turns. There are plenty of ‘Kubrick moments’ to experience, and the onion peels from the inside, out. This investigative comic strip is brief and simple, and the artwork is fantastic too. Perfect for a quick read and the coffee table.

Writer and artist Joe Daly was born in London in 1979 (to South African parents) and moved to South Africa in 1980. He lives in Cape Town where he works as a commercial illustrator and cartoonist.

The Red Monkey (The Leaking Cello Case) is co-published in hardcover by Double Storey Books with SL Magazine and retails at R110. - Ruby Bernard




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