Thirty-one years ago, Alan Moore and Steve Parkhouse‘s satirical deconstructionist epic of the contemporary British family, The Bojeffries Saga, made its debut in the pages of the comic anthology publication Warrior, the same magazine where the Moore-penned Marvelman (later to become Miracleman in its U.S. reprinting) and V for Vendetta first appeared in serialized form. Warrior also featured works by other luminaries of the U.K. comics scene such as Steve Moore, Brian Bolland, Grant Morrison, and John Bolton and played a key role in bringing about the British Invasion of the American four-color world in the 1980s.
The stories comprising The Bojeffries Saga have appeared in a variety of publications and collected volumes on both sides of the Atlantic since the first story premiered in 1982, and now Top Shelf Productions has produced another trade paperback collection complete with an all-new 24-page story that catches up with the Bojeffries clan in the modern day.
The first stories (first published in black & white in Warrior and later reprinted in color in the first two 1986 issues of Flesh and Bones) focus on Inchmale, a humble and unassuming rent collector who runs afoul of the Bojeffries while attempting to close the books on 90 years’ worth of unpaid rent. His boring existence, which he tries to liven up by constantly thinking of names for his never-to-be-written autobiography, gets a welcome dose of excitement as he investigates the family and the possible crimes against civilized society they may have committed. His insistence on seeing the clan repay their debts leads to a very polite invasion of their home where he gets to know various family members up close and too personal for a supposedly normal man to endure.
The family consists of father Jobremus, daughter Ginda, son Reth, uncles Raoul and Festus Zludotny, grandfather Podlasp, and an unnamed baby that manifests in nuclear form. The wolfish Raoul is prone to eating dogs, mostly poodles, and Festus resembles a Bela Lugosi cosplayer. Ginda believes that her ability, genuine or not, to calculate the number of molecules in a neutron star makes her sexually appealing to men despite having an unattractive appearance. Podlasp is a hideous, amorphous blob with tentacles (imagine one of Lovecraft’s Old Ones but cuddlier) who lives in the family’s greenhouse and can alter a person’s atomic structure; he’s (it’s?) also quite senile.
The stories in this volume include “The Rentman Cometh,” “One of our Rentmen is missing,” “Raoul’s Night Out,” “Batfishing in Suburbia,” “Festus: Dawn of the Dead,” “Sex with Ginda Bojeffries,” “A Quiet Christmas with the Family,” “Song of the Terraces” (stylized after a light opera with libretto), and “Our Factory Fortnight” (in color). The new story, “After They Were Famous,” is presented as a scathing satire of British celebrity culture and the media’s obsession with exploiting the disenfranchised. Moore’s writing is as sharp and witty as ever and Parkhouse conjures up some oddly entrancing images of the family and the downbeat, economically deprived atmosphere in which they live and have made into a warm and loving environment that can ensure their survival. The artwork is very comical and crude in appearance, but it also shares visual traits with the finest political cartoons. In essence, The Bojeffries Saga is much like a political cartoon in that it adapts the medium to serve a greater message that becomes clearer to the reader the more they choose to read between the elegantly inked lines.
Fans of oddball underground comics and comedy from the U.K. might find a lot to love about The Bojeffries Saga, now collected in one solid and entertaining volume I highly recommend.