Written & Drawn by Jas Wilson, Crime Consultancy by Tony Spencer
Him & Her’s Smuggling Vacation is a good old fashioned laugh out loud caper tale, using good old fashioned Whizzer & Chips meets Hunt Emerson meets classic Euro art. Carry On Drug Smuggling the movie could be made from this (but really shouldn’t seeing how bad the last modern attempt at a Carry On movie was).
It may look like a European album on the outside and a mixture of classic British humour meets underground comics on the inside but this tale of a pair of innocents abroad who just happen to stumble on a tonne of dope and become drug smugglers is a very adult read indeed. It’s also the funniest thing I’ve read for quite a while.
(This is where having your very own crime consultant pays dividends. The book is packed with very authentic details like this mobile phone setup.)
At it’s heart this is a very simple crime caper. But the book has a ring of authenticity in it’s writing provided no doubt by the input of the crime consultant to the book; Tony Spencer. He got 6 years for smuggling hashish and spent a fair chunk of his time corresponding with Jas Wilson to lay the ground work for Smuggling Vacation. The result is pretty unique; very funny but with a lot of authentic details from someone who’s done most of what you read here. Indeed, many of the characters are based on real life criminals, but obviously names have been changed to protect the (not so) innocent.
(The happy couple. Or maybe not. Stan & Kaye are Him & Her from the Smuggling Vacation. Art & (c) Jas Wilson.)
Him & Her are Stan and Kaye, just your average British couple on their Spanish holiday. Which means they’re already sick of each other and he’s off to sleep on the beach as we join them. But he happens to pick the very same beach that a bunch of rather incompetent drug smugglers have hidden a tonne of dope. Now, being a complete moron our hero decides that the only thing to do upon discovering the haul is to drag it up to their hotel room, convince Her that it would be a great idea to smuggle it back to Britain and enlists his not too bright brother to bring a van over to pick it up.
(The exact moment it all starts to go wrong for Him & Her. Drugs indeed)
But a tonne of dope is a million quids worth and the incompetant gang of drug smugglers that lost the gear have a very nasty boss demanding they get it back. Throw in Customs & Exise on their tail from the word go and a classic chase across Spain and France is the result. Our aateur drug smugglers manage to complete cock up at every stage yet somehow manage to very nearly make it all the way home.
(The gang may be incompetent but the boss, the bizarrely named Pastille Jones, is a ruthless bastard not averse to crippling his men for their failure. But don’t worry, even this scene gets a laugh later on.)
Through the course of 74 pages we get an awful lot of great story, all told in an all too believable voice and never light on the laughs. Wilson gets his dialogue just right for each of his large cast of characters and never slows the action below breakneck speed. A lesser story would easily lose track of what’s happening in each thread, but not here. At no point in the book do you have to go back and check who’s who or what’s happening. It’s just simply and confidently told and in amongst all the drug smuggling action still manages to throw in some wonderful little character gags like this:
(I’ve had that argument many a time in the car over a map. And the “I thought these things came with a full tank” had me laughing out loud.)
The art on Smuggling Vacation is equally impressive. With equal parts Whizzer & Chips, Hunt Emerson and Euro greats like Spirou it’s gorgeous throughout. One thing that isn’t immediately obvious, because we’re so used to seeing modern computerised lettering is how nice it is to see good, old fashioned hand lettered artwork. I had to resist posting up even more examples of the art than I have but there’s a lot more on the Smuggling Vacation web comic page.
All in all then, His & Hers Smuggling Vacation may well be the funniest British dope smuggling tale you’ll read all year. In fact, I can pretty confidently predict it will be the only British dope smuggling epic you’ll read all year. It’s well written, packed with research but never lets up on the funny and has some cracking art.
Jas already has a sequel to Vacation called Day of the Deal planned which will hopefully be out this time next year. I’m going to look forward to that one, particularly after seeing where we ended up at the end of Smuggling Vacation.
Smuggling Vacation is available from their website www.smugglingvacation.co.uk. The website also has some great background to the development of the book and most importantly a selection of pages for your enjoyment.
Richard Bruton used to inhale but found it always, without fail, made him violently sick. Although he subsequently found other drugs that suited him more these days it tends to be just Gin and ciggies. (Although he’s trying to give the fags up as well). It really is no fun getting old.