Harlequin Valentine

Written by Neil Gaiman, Art by John Bolton

Publisher: Dark Horse Comics

Format: Hardcover, full color, $10.95

Category: Adult Drama

Dewey: 741.5 GAI or FIC GAI

Subjects: Graphic novels, comics, comic books, etc., love stories-fiction, Valentine's Day-fiction

ISBN-13: 978-1-56971-620-5

Reviewed by: Kat Kan

Writer supreme Gaiman gives readers his unique "take" on Harlequin, the diamond-bedecked trickster clown. This time, Harlequin is in love, so he demonstrates it by nailing a human heart to his love's front door as a Valentine's Day gift. The young woman is not the type to faint at such a sight, oh no; in fact, she puts it in a sandwich bag and sets out, Harlequin in tow, to confront her old boss, the coroner. Invisible to everyone, Harlequin cavorts around Missy, the young woman, then tries to catch her attention while in disguise as an old woman. Then Missy confounds him by going to a cafe, where she eats the raw heart with some hash browns and ketchup. Now she can see Harlequin, and takes his magic staff and hat, changing places with him, for she doesn't want to be his love, his Columbine, but Harlequin himself. And he? Now he's just Pete, the cafe's kitchen helper. But as he cleans plates, he discovers a bit of raw heart left on a plate with some hash browns and ketchup and eats it ...

This is a Valentine's Day story with a distinct twist, a Harlequinade, if you will, all of which is explained in an afterword which succinctly describes the history of Harlequin, the Commedia dell'arte, and the Pantomime. This is one of many things I like about Gaiman – he's not afraid to show his literary roots, and he likes to give his readers enough of a taste that those who are so inclined can pursue knowledge further. This is definitely not for the squeamish or delicate of stomach. Bolton's painted art is realistic and beautifully done, so much that reading the book is more like watching a movie. Adults who like romances with a little bite will enjoy this.