Writer: Robert Sellers
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.