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Existential clown comedy as you like it.
Fred the Clown's misadventures are a curious balance of bleakness and joyful absurdism; the universe may dump on Fred from a great height, but he never gives up. More often than not, they involve the pursuit of a lady—any lady will do, it seems, but bearded ladies are at the top of the list. Disappointment seems inevitable, and it usually is; yet, almost despite himself, Langridge will occasionally give Fred a happy ending out of nowhere...
Langridge's comics betray a restless stylistic playfulness, a pessimism about human nature, and an absurdist perspective on human folly that can be traced back through Monty Python, The Goon Show and even as far back as Lewis Carroll. Fred the Clown's visual look often harks back to earlier eras, evoking the styles of (among others) Max Fleischer cartoons, classic newspaper strips, 19th-century illustration, the children's books of Maurice Sendak and Doctor Seuss, and more. The sensibility, though, is thoroughly modern—no classic style goes unsubverted, no narrative is left without ending in emotional ambiguity or a pomposity-puncturing ironic gag. Underlying it all is Langridge's own meticulous brush style. According to another New Zealand cartoonist, Hicksville creator Dylan Horrocks, "If Samuel Beckett had teamed up with the Goons and learned to draw like Tex Avery, the result would have been something very like the comics of Roger Langridge."
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Roger Langridge hails from New Zealand but now lives in London with his wife and daughter.From Booklist:
*Starred Review* Every so often, lightning strikes--and nails Fred the Clown right in the tokhes. Such is the essence of New Zealand-born London cartoonist Langridge's sublimely feckless creation that it's a wonder a bolt ever strikes elsewhere. And such is the comics-steeped virtuosity of Langridge's art--which, while most indebted to Max Fleisher's animated cartoons (e.g., Betty Boop), embraces spot-on parodies of comic strips (Peanuts, garfield, etc.), underground cartoonists (Crumb, Deitch), and picture-book artists (Seuss, Gorey)--that the lightning of gratified recognition (this guy's one of us!) must repeatedly strike deep-dyed comics lovers while perusing Fred's adventures. Meanwhile, Langridge's verbal skills convulse us, for he is a sick jokester of the very first water. In this compendium organized in chapters corresponding to "Fred the Clown's Ten Steps to Happiness" (which, needless to say, don't ever get him there), the two prose-heavy ones--a history of Fred's two comic strips ("Know Your Roots") and a mock newspaper ("Value the Written Word")--may be the most side-splitting burlesques of comics history and historiography ever. In the other eight chapters, in which the only words are narrative or in print within the panels, Langridge's art is as funny as his writing and also, despite the pretense that Fred merits no sympathy, touching. Ray Olson
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