The Tragical Comedy or Comical Tragedy of Mr. Punch

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The Tragical Comedy or Comical Tragedy of Mr. Punch
Mr Punch cover.jpg
Cover of the story, by Dave McKean
Date 1994
Creative team
Writer Neil Gaiman
Artist Dave McKean
ISBN 0575053186

The Tragical Comedy or Comical Tragedy of Mr. Punch or simply Mr. Punch is a graphic novel written by Neil Gaiman, illustrated and designed by Dave McKean. It was published in 1994.


The book follows the childhood memories of the narrator, illustrating various experiences in his life: fishing on the beach at dawn; his grandparents and how one grandfather went mad; a hunchback great-uncle; the betrayal of children by adults; fear of the unknown; an unwanted pregnancy, violence, possibly even murder.

The general story is paralleled with the traditional story of the Mr. Punch show, 'The oldest, the wisest play'. The narrator is first introduced to Mr. Punch when fishing with his grandfather, but encounters it, and a mysterious 'professor' (Punch & Judy man), during various other activities. The story of Mr. Punch, is that he kills his baby, then his wife Judy and the police officer who comes to arrest him. He outwits a ghost, a crocodile and a doctor, convinces the hangman to be hanged in his place and, at the play's end, even defeats the devil himself.

Like many of Gaiman's works, a major theme in this graphic novel is memory and the unreliability of one's own recollections.


It has been published a number of times:


Future Bible Heroes wrote and performed a song about the character, called "Mr. Punch." It was released on the compilation album Where's Neil When You Need Him? which also featured Tori Amos, Voltaire, and Rasputina.

In 2005, BBC Radio 3 broadcast a one-hour radio adaptation of The Tragical Comedy or Comical Tragedy of Mr. Punch, adapted by Gaiman with music by McKean and Ashley Slater.

The Rogue Artists Ensemble also have mounted Mr. Punch as a stage play.[1]