Max Hamm

Created by Frank Cammuso

“..there’s another side to this two-bit town. The one nobody talks about. The one where for every happy ending there’s fifty miserable ones. In Storybookland, dreams die hard.”
— Max gives us the lowdown on Storybookland in The Big Sheep

His name’s MAX HAMM, and he’s a pig.

No, really,

As in the Three Little Pigs.

You see, Max is a private peeper in Storybookland. His partner in the Hamm and Eggs Detective Agency is Humpty Dumpty, and their client in their first appearance, The Big Sheep (2002) is none other than Little Bo Peep, who wants them to find her sheep, whom have been kidnapped. But things go horribly wrong, and Humpty has a nasty accident that all the King’s horses and all the King’s men wouldn’t be able to set right. As Max wryly observes, for that “they were gonna need a spatula.”

Still, when a pig’s partner is killed…

Yep, Max is a Fairy Tale Detective, and it’s a delightful take-off on old crime films, detective fiction and children’s nursey tales and fairy tales, all done up in a series of picture-perfect mock storybooks, just like the Little Golden Books we all read as kids, right down to the gold spines and the painted interior art style, rendered for the sake of economy (or to evoke old film noirs) in “glorious black and white.”

In Max’s world, The Grimm Brothers and Mother Goose slug it out for control of organized crime, Little Boy Blue is a jazz musician and snitch, the Little Old Lady’s shoe is a fleabag hotel and even Little Bo Peep’s past features a “youthful discretion” that could ruin her career. It’s reminiscent at times of Bruce Hale’s Chet Gecko, but these tricks definitely ain’t for kids. Not that this is X-rated or anything, but it’s definitely aimed at bigger kids; a witty, affectionate and masterful send-up that readers of this site should go for in a big way. It’s simply one of the cleverest parodies of private eyes I’ve ever read.

Nominated for an Eisner, the Max Hamm Fairy Tale Detective graphic novel series was written and drawn by Frank Cammuso, the award-winning editorial cartoonist for the Syracuse Post-Standard, and the artist/writer of the graphic novel series Knights of the Lunch Table. His fiction and satire have appeared in The New Yorker, The New York Times, The Village Voice, Slate and on NPR. Cammuso lives in Syracuse, New York.

UNDER OATH

  • “Cammuso’s Max Hamm is the sort of thing that could have gone into the realm of “been there, done that” or simply unfunny — but instead is fresh, funny, and a real joy to read. Cammuso cleverly uses a story-within-a-story technique to both set up his setting of Storybookland, and to fill in the reader on the current turn of events for poor Hamm. The jokes fly fast and furious, but Cammuso manages to keep them funny and original by knowing to keep most of them integral to the plot. The story itself moves quickly, and the conclusion brought a smile to my face. ”
    — Greg McElhatton, iComics

GRAPHIC NOVELS

  • The Big Sheep (2002) Buy this book
  • The Long Ever After: Part One: The Seven Deadly Sins (2003) Buy this book
  • The Long Ever After: Part Two: The Glass Slipper (2003)  | Buy this book
  • The Long Ever After: Part Three: The Magic Mirror (2004)Buy this book

COLLECTIONS

  • Max Hamm, Fairy Tale Detective: The Long Ever After (2005)Buy this book
    Includes all four books, plus new material.

RELATED LINKS

  • Cammuso.com
    The author’s official website, and the home of Nite Owl Comix. There’s also Web of Deceit, featuring “China Jack” Fletcher, a wise-cracking shamus with an eye for the ladies and a penchant for the ponies.” It’s Frank’s first attempt at telling an interactive detective story, but it’s a hoot and a half. His plan is to eventually develop one of these for Max Hamm. “But right now,” he confesses, “it’s just a plan.”
  • “Oh mama, I got dem cosmic anthropomorphic P.I. blues again…”
    Going to the dogs… and beyond…
Respectfully submitted by Kevin Burton Smith.

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