My comic collection, The Rockpool Files – beautifully drawn by Phil Elliott, is out now, and I hope all mystery lovers will dive in.
It is a belief in the publishing world that people love mysteries, but actually this isn’t true. People hate mysteries and want to see them get solved.
What people really love is investigation. This is proved by my favourite detective show, Columbo, where the audience is clearly shown whodunnit at the start of the show – usually at great length and in exhaustive detail. No room for mystery there at all.
What people love is the process of investigation, as Columbo gnaws away at the truth, and the trouser leg of his vain, smarmy and usually famous suspect – until they are caught out in a magnificent pay-off.
I think my favourite one is where they use the blind man as an eye-witness.
Suspect: His evidence can’t convict me – he’s blind!
Columbo: Ah, but howja know he was blind – unless you were there, at the scene of the crime, to see him?
And then there’s the one where Columbo lures the suspect into teaming up with him to crack his own crime. Or was that in all of them?
The Rockpool Files is like the opposite to Columbo. Explanations come last – if at all. It is mystery for the sake of mystery, the lovely magical blur around the edge of reality that accompanies a truly baffling event.
In Rockpool we detect the location of a planet by recording the sigh of its ocean trapped ina giant shell. We take the force of gravity to court for the murder of a man who fell to his death. We order two drinks and insist on having the second one first.
Because here’s the thing. In the realm of fiction, people love investigation. But in the real world – now that’s where people do love a mystery. Check out the history channel – it might as well be called the mystery channel (dies laughing at his own remark), as the great unfathomables get wheeled out every week: The Pyramids, Atlantis, Area 51, the Carpenters.
My personal favourite is Stendek. But, if that word means nothing to you now, don’t google it. You will only end up like me, waking up every day wondering what stendek means.
Christmas is looming, and that is certainly a great mystery – one of my favourites, where bizarre events in a faraway time and place have led to grown men in the 21st century standing hand-in-hand with their children and scanning the very skies for flying reindeer.
The biggest mystery for my son, is since Ghristmas is so great – why don’t we have it every day?
EVERY DAY??? Ah, my son, you have to grow up a bit before you know the answer to that one.
PS… The Rockpool files, even more beautifully drawn by Phil Elliott, has been examined by scientists at the Atlantis Detective Agency, and proven, scientifically, to be exactly the right size to fit into a Christmas stocking!
Nothing mysterious about that.