On the heels of the delightful and unexpectedly
popular Lady Cottington's Pressed Fairy Book comes a sequel of
sorts: Strange Stains and Mysterious Smells: Quentin Cottington's
Journal of Faery Research.
The premise? That the stains and smells we encounter in everyday
life -- the odor of dirty socks or the stain on the front of your
shirt -- are actually living beings with minds of their own. Using
specialized equipment, such as the "Psychic Image Nebulising
Generator" (PING) and the "Primary Odor Nasalizing Gasificator"
(PONG) developed by Quentin Cottington in the early part of this
century, these creatures can be seen and heard. Terry Jones and Brian
Froud have replicated Quentin's research, interviewing many common
smells and stains, including:
- The Vegetable Stenchman. A cheerful but potent smell
who lurks in every refrigerator. Favorite conversation topics
include "Entertaining Fish Without Using Strong Language" and
"Where to Store Used Lollipop Sticks."
- Loobritus Meckanicus. The oily, black stain that
appears underneath your car even when there are no leaks!
Also fond of Elvis impersonations.
- Mai Tee Pong. A truly awful stench found in spray cans
misleadingly labeled "Air Freshener."
Strange Stains and Mysterious Smells is an amusing vehicle
for Froud's distinctive artwork, but lacks the spontaneity of the
earlier Pressed Fairy Book. Some of the gags simply don't
work: "Hello, I'm Terry Jones. And I'm Brian Froud. You can tell
which of us is writing at any particular moment by the simple, but we
hope effective device, that when I'm writing (this is Terry
Jones) I will use the word 'heelpost'. Whereas when I'm writing
(this is Brian Froud) I will always..." which plan they
quickly abandon. Many of the entries stoop to "bathroom" humor, such
as the Peckory Cud who specializes in children with runny noses, or
the Flettera Floralillia and her "Ode to an Arm-Pit."
There are over thirty full color pictures of the unsavory
creatures, along with diagrams and schematics of Quentin Cottington's
PING and PONG equipment. The pages are replete with glossy stains,
smeared text, and faux coffee rings. Mercifully, there are no
Also by Terry Jones and Brian Froud:
Lady Cottington's Pressed Fairy Book. Turner
This review copyright 1997 by Wendy Morris