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Hellraisers Paperback – 20 Oct 2011
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Hellraisers is an enjoyable, crazy ride though the mint decades of British and American stage and screen. --The Independent
About the Author
Robert Sellers is a former stand-up comedian and the author of biographies of Sting, Tom Cruise, two appreciations of the work of Sean Connery and the definitive book on The Pythons: Always Look on the Bright Side of Life. Robert is a regular contributor to Empire, Total Film, The Independent, SFX and Cinema Retro and has contributed to a number of television documentaries, including Channel 4's The 100 Best Family Films. JAKe is an illustrator, graphic designer, comic artist, writer and animation director based in London. His iconic work for the Prodigy on the Fat of The Land LP brought him to the attention of an international audience. His work for Lucasfilm on the Star Wars and Indiana Jones properties has been reproduced worldwide. His illustrations appear in the bestselling The Mighty Book of Boosh as well as NME, Esquire and Time Out.
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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.
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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