‘Sir Apropos of Nothing’: Peter David as master at play

Before I get into the review of Peter David’s graphic novel Sir Apropos of Nothing: Gypsies, Vamps and Thieves, we at BoroughCon just want to send him our good wishes for a speedy recovery. A couple of weeks ago he suffered a severe infection in his leg which temporarily made it very difficult for him to walk. He was briefly hospitalized but is now home recovering.

Peter David, or PAD as he signs himself, is truly the patron saint of the uber-geek. Not only is he recognized as “The” writer of the Hulk, creator of Young Justice, and author of countless Star Trek novels, but he also wrote several graphic novels about Stephen King’s Gunslinger.  In fact, I could fill the rest of this review with just his bibliography.

In the area of original novels, he created that great rascal, Sir Apropos.

In my review of Love and Capes, I discussed how humor and superheros are an uncomfortable mix. Not so, fantasy and humor. The marriage of the two have a long history. L. Sprague DeCamp  and Fletcher Pratt  produced some of the best and most influential humorous fantasy with their Harold Shea stories. John Jakes, now known for his historical potboilers, originally was a science fiction and fantasy writer, and his parody of Conan, Mention My Name In Atlantis is one of favorites of the genre.

Read Gary’s review of ‘Doctor Atlantis’

And let’s not forget Harvard Lampoon’s sacrilegious parody, Bored of The Rings

Peter David can proudly take his place with these luminaries. His Sir Apropos books are very funny, and a great way to escape from the troubles of the world for a while. There are four prose books, Sir Apropos of Nothing, The Woad to Ruin, Tong Lashing, and Pyramid Schemes, and one graphic novel.

Apropos is the protagonist but is no hero. He’s a coward who runs at the first sight of trouble. He also seeks gold and worldly pleasures without having to work for it. He will lie, cheat and steal whenever it suits him, which is pretty much all the time.

He reminds me of the other great literary scoundrel, Sir Harry Flashman by George MacDonald Fraser. In his blog, Jeff Deist provides this great description: “Harry Flashman as an antihero, a true coward, a liar, and an addictive womanizer. This is the short list. One might easily add: blackguard, bounder, poltroon, war deserter, drunk, and brothel-frequenter. But Sir Harry is also a clear-eyed observer of the human condition and all its attendant folly. He is as honest with himself as he is dishonest with others.”

The same description can also apply to Sir Apropos. However, where Fraser’s character grasped a simple, ironic truth about life: the stinkers usually come out on top, Apropos always seems to end up with the dirty end of the stick.

The lame son of royal fool who cuckolded the royal master, Apropos has no family who will claim him or a place in the world. He lives by his wits trying to survive in a world which has little use for him.

And being that Peter David is the author, expect puns and references to other works of fiction.

Gypsies starts with a Dark Tower parody and a musical reference: “The man in black fled across the desert, as for me, I rode across the desert on a horse with no name.”

A series of misadventures, to include being transported, like Dorothy Gale, by tornado lands Apropos with a band of gypsies. When they are attacked the local lord, Apropos flees, only to be proclaimed the “one who survived” as a result of lightning shaped cut on his forehead. He is whisked off to the castle to help the ruler, Flad the Inhaler, become a man.

The jokes come fast and furious, and may require a re-reading to catch all the verbal jokes. You will definitely need to re-read it to catch all of artist Robin Rigg’s visual joke. I spent several minutes just on the tornado scene.

This “R” rated tale is a fun and raucous adventure. Buy it, and all the Apropos books, you won’t regret it.

Read Gary’s review of ‘A Waste of Life’

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