Monday, February 7, 2022

On the Coffee Table: Hellraisers

Title: Hellraisers
Writer: Robert Sellers
Artist: JAKe

via Amazon

In a graphic novel Christmas Carol parody, spiraling alcoholic Martin is visited by four spirits (Ha - just got the double-entendre): Richard Burton, Richard Harris, Oliver Reed and Peter O'Toole, notorious Hollywood boozers all.  In turn, they regale him with tales of debauchery - not exactly tales of regret for any of them, interestingly.

Before we go on, a quick disclaimer: I know I write a lot about alcoholic beverages.  I enjoy drinking them and enjoy making them perhaps even more.  But folks, I am not advocating inebriation.  Let's be careful out there.  And if you or someone you love needs help, get it.

As I said to my wife the other night, Hellraisers makes me grateful that I am not an alcoholic womanizer.  At least one of the ghosts - Richard Harris, I think - says something along the lines of "people regret it when they don't live the wild life in their youth."  I won't play the saint.  There were times in my life when I bent further in those directions than I do now.  And it's not too late.  I could still get ripped every night and cheat on my wife but seriously, who has the energy?

Joking aside, when I think of the less responsible times in my life, I don't exactly miss them.  When I think wistfully of youth, I think of other things.  Might there have been ego satisfaction in more women?  I suppose.  But I'll take quality over quantity.  And once you start down that road, how many is enough?  Or is enough not the point?  And how much does betrayal become a permanent feature in all of your relationships?  Sex is great but love is better, no contest.  More booze?  Would have just meant more hangovers and blacking out on the highlights.  I'm always shocked by the sheer volume alcoholics consume.  How do you stay conscious long enough to drink that much?  Drugs?  I suppose there are experiences I missed out on.  But they're also addictions avoided.

Here's the truth I've learned: you can never be sure what you're going to regret later.  And that's why life is hard.  Whatever I might miss from younger days, I know with certainty that I'm happier now.  The predictability of middle age is delightfully comfortable.

Sorry, back to the book...

The tales of hard living are entertaining to a point but each of them ultimately sad.  Happy marriages do not mesh well with the way these men lived.  It's fun to visit the films they made: Lawrence of Arabia, Oliver, Becket, Harry Potter.  One certainly feels sympathy for the people who chose to work with them.  The book is well executed.  The art - black and white, bold lines, sharp angles - feeds the quasi-trippy, vaguely angry atmosphere.  The cautionary tale is effective.


  1. I would love to read this book. I read a bio on Peter O'Toole who was so hopeless and should have died many years before he actually did. I rarely drink now and don't have a care to one way or the other but, boy, did I imbibe in my past and had great times and lousy, spinning mornings.
    I had heard that Oliver Reed was having something to eat and drink with his wife in some pub when a group of marines or seamen came in and started teasing Reed that they could drink him under the table. He proceeded to drink all of them under the table. The others past out and he died in his soup bowl. I have no idea if this is true or not.

    1. Yes, I think you would enjoy it, Birgit.

      And it would seem your Oliver Reed story is true!

  2. This does look like fun, if a little jarring that the margin for error is greater and even admired for men, although I am also glad not to be an alcoholic womaniser and there's not much depth of happiness there.

    1. It's definitely fun at times - once you accept it for what it is.

  3. I like your reflections, especially, "you can never be sure what you're going to regret later."

  4. Sounds like an interesting read.
    I had no wild youth and, in fact, have only ever been drunk once, which was last summer up in the mountains. A combination of high altitude and eating a buttload of fruit from sangria.
    I don't regret not having wild drunken nights when I was young, but there are many things I do regret.

    1. Me, too. But I think I've gotten over most of the regrets in the past few years. Not all but most.