Lead us into Temptation. Propaganda gladly walks into the desert
by Glenn Dakin
Temptation is a simple book. A series of single page strips featuring an ongoing battle of wits between the devil and a single man. The devil offers a series of delights, pleasures or relief from the monotony of the man’s existence all designed to convince the un-named man to part with his soul……
(The entire concept in one panel. But it works. Again and again and again. Temptation by Glenn Dakin. Published Active Images.)
That’s it. Over and over and over. Each page presents the same basic premise, with subtle changes each time; the addition of a prop, a small change of scenery, an occasional guest will illustrate some delightful visual gag. But Dakin’s inventiveness and artistic skill is so wonderful that every page is an absolute joy. The same gag never gets tired and the very last page is as funny as the first.
Eddie Campbell and Stan Lee compare the work favourably with the genius that is Herriman’s Krazy Kat. They’re both right. It’s a gloriously simple, delightfully minimalist work. There’s also an acknowledged debt to Johnny Hart’s BC particularly in the art but his humour, his sense of timing, the inventiveness of the premise, the continual riffing on the basic idea that evokes the true spirit of Herriman. It’s pure Krazy Kat and just as wonderful. Dakin should be as celebrated. But sadly whilst Herriman gets profiled on Radio 4 and Hart’s BC is fairly well known so few people would recognise Glenn Dakin’s wonderful work.
The material available to us today consists purely of Temptation and Abe. Over the last few years he’s also been involved with various commercial projects; Robbie the Reindeer, Wallace & Gromit’s Curse of the Were-Rabbit essential guide and his ongoing Sunday Times strip Robot Crusoe. But nowhere in these works is the pure, channelled genius that is found in Temptation or Abe.
So here, at last, at long last, some 20 plus years after starting it, is a definitive collection of Glenn Dakin’s Temptation. An instant classic but still tragically overlooked. Please, please, give it a try.
Richard Bruton is a lifelong comics fan and former Comic Book Store Guy; you can read more of his thoughts on comics and life on his blog Fictions.