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5.0 out of 5 stars An excellent read, 16 Dec 2013
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This review is from: Hellraisers (Paperback)
Filled with excellent illustrations and canny likenesses of the leading men (O'Toole, Reed, Burton and Harris RIP), Hellraisers is a wry take on the highs and lows of alcohol-fuelled film stardom, in a pastiche of Charles Dickens' 'A Christmas Carol'. The Scrooge character in this instance is a man on the street who has plumbed the depths of despair and in a drunken haze tries to end it all, until he is visited by four sage ghosts, each with a great story to tell.

I have been an admirer of Jake's illustrations for many years, so it was with excitement that I discovered that he had published a graphic novel. I hadn't read anything by Robert Sellers before, but they make a great team. If they haven't already, I hope that they publish another graphic novel together soon.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Drawn from legends, 15 Feb 2013
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This review is from: Hellraisers (Paperback)
In 2008, Robert Sellers multi-stranded biography of Richard Burton, Richard Harris, Peter O'Toole and Oliver Reed, suitably entitled Hellraisers, hit the bookshelves. For an admirer of all four actors, it was a must have and I delighted in reading once more their tales of excess and even learning a few new folkloric recollections of their inebriated bad behaviour.

Last year, Sellers had another go at detailing the lives of those legends, with the help of Lucasfilm graphic artist JAKe, and so Hellraisers - The Graphic Biography was born. A Book I have finally purchased and read in one enjoyable day.

It's a great companion piece to the original biography, detailing all the choicest bits in each man's life, vividly and wittily drawn by JAKe. But it's not just a lazy retread; the graphic novel takes a fictional conceit, introducing us to a wannabe hellraiser (ie alcoholic) Martin, who is drinking alone and neglecting his long suffering wife and child at Christmas. On his return home and to bed (a slap to his missus and ignoring his son) Martin is visited by the spirit of his dead father, a similarly neglectful chain smoking and drinking parent in life, who advises his son that he will be visited by four spirits in typical Dickensian A Christmas Carol fashion. From there, Martin - and the reader - is taken through the exploits of the four spirits; Burton, Harris, Reed and O'Toole - the last man standing.

There's much to enjoy in each tale, including snapshots of on and off set at the quartet's most famous films and stage performances, as well as seeing their friends, directors and co-stars so wonderfully drawn too. And the stories are all classics; be it Burton's sparring relationship with Liz Taylor, Harris boarding night trains to Leeds just to continue drinking after the pubs have shut, O'Toole climbing walls and crashing cars and Reed getting his genitalia tattooed!

But its main conceit, to show Martin the error of his ways, is a trifle skewed as often the recollections just seem like so much fun, with little or no real regrets; "Ah Jesus," says a sober O'Toole to an equally sober Harris at one point "But I did enjoy the days when one went for a beer at one's local in Paris and woke up in Corsica!"

Nonetheless it's a great fun read and an interesting variation on the traditional graphic novel. There's also, quite fittingly, something very filmic about the tale; we see Martin being charged by a rugby team headed by Harris (This Sporting Life) a fur coat clad Burton playing a giant Monopoly version of his life whilst Clint Eastwood roars across the board towards him on a motorbike and sidecar (Where Eagles Dare) O'Toole rides towards Martin on a camel (Lawrence of Arabia) and perhaps most suitably of all, Reed's life is detailed as one long trip to the circus (where "girls with nice bristols" enjoy half price admission!) and Reed plays each part from Ringmaster to box office lady in perhaps an even more twisted surrealist version of Tommy

I'd love to see this as a film, certainly an animated one and perhaps that may be its next incarnation? But in the mean time this is a most fitting tribute to four absolute legends not only of film and stage, but of drink and life itself.
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5.0 out of 5 stars A Cracking Book!, 25 Jan 2013
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This review is from: Hellraisers (Paperback)
Being a fan of "old school British" actors. Oliver Reed,Peter O Toole, Richard Burton etc. I was very excited about this book. As a younger person(ahem..I was born in the 80's so not so young) I missed out on the swinging 60's and the rise of the iconic British film industry. With being a great lover of 60's/70's films, I have always been captivated by the actors of the time. My favourite being Oliver Reed. Being a great fan of art also played a major role in me buying this book, as the artwork is quite extordinary. In my opinion these four actors portrayed in quite wonderful cartoon like sketches, are lost on the youth of today. Ironic really as they were once the hip like cats who brought teenage youth to the pictures in their flocks, to spend their few bob on seeing their hero on the big screen. Who do we have now as icons? The four actors written about in this book. Oliver Reed,Richard Burton, Peter O Toole and Richard Harris were the crem de la creme of the British film industry. They also had another side to their actor heads, in the case that they enjoyed a few bevvies! This story etched in cartoon style intertwines each of their lives together in a humourous comic book strip that will entertain! My suggestion is that you have this book to hand on your coffee table,and while not a long read,it is fantastic and will certainly get you in the mood for going out to the pub to raise a glass to these heroes of cinema.
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Hellraisers
Hellraisers by JAKe (Paperback - 20 Oct 2011)
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