cover image Giraffes on Horseback Salad

Giraffes on Horseback Salad

Josh Frank, Tim Heidecker, and Manuela Pertega. Quirk, $29.99 (224p) ISBN 978-1-59474-923-0

This graphic novel is utterly one of a kind: an adaptation of a film that Salvador Dalí developed with the Marx Brothers in the 1930s but never managed to get produced. The book’s creative team stitches Dalí’s freewheeling treatment and sketches into a semicoherent plot, an absurdist romantic comedy about a straitlaced business innovator who falls for a mysterious, reality-warping siren called the Surrealist Woman. Their romance proceeds with the help of her friends and enablers, the Marx Brothers. The graphic novel format allows for visual possibilities that would have been all but impossible on film, from melting cities and flaming giraffes to the constantly transmogrifying body of the Surrealist Woman herself. The art is often weak when it comes to individual elements—though the Surrealist Woman looks striking, too many of the ordinary human figures are stiff and awkward—but the overall page compositions are exceptional, bursting with motion, mind-bending patterns, and wildly shifting color schemes. The Marx Brothers are almost lost in the chaos, but they’re drawn with cartoonish charm and written with genuine wit. This messy, imperfect, fearless visual buffet is almost certainly better than any film version would have been. (Mar.)