Iznogoud the Grand Vizier of Baghdad has only one dream, to be caliph instead of the caliph. He plots all day to replace the good Caliph of Baghdad, Haroun Al Plassid. Yet all his wacky plans and schemes go hilariously wrong, with Iznogoud becoming their victim instead. Goscinny and Tabary take you on a journey into a politically incorrect Arabian Nights fairytale. Get ready for bad puns, historical miss-positioning and never ending torment for Iznogoud. What could possibly go wrong?
I loved Iznogoud as a kid! As one of the staples of Franco-Belgian comics his stories are available in almost every Western European country. Goscinny created a cult icon, with the phrase “I want to be caliph, instead of the caliph” actually entering the French language as a description for over-ambitious people.
Many of the early Iznogoud albums are made up of several eight page short-stories that chronicle his entertaining misadventures and Iznogoud and the Magic Computer is no exception. Containing five tales of mishaps, Iznogoud and the Magic Computer is the 4th volume in the series.
Welcome to Baghdad, Now Laugh!
Everything starts out with Sultan Pullmankar (French pun meaning ‘Sultan Streetcar’) comes to town in order to sign a marriage treaty that will ally him and Caliph Al Plassid. Iznogoud won’t have this of course, as such a treaty would make it impossible for him to become caliph instead of the caliph. Pullmankar hates Iznogoud fiercely, which doesn’t stop the later from doing everything in his power to mess up the treaty.
Looking for new ideas, Iznogoud turns to management consultant I-Bee’Em (will the puns ever stop?) who tells him his approach has been wrong all along. Instead of using magic, witchcraft and trickery –Iznogoud should use modern technology instead. Fortunately I-Bee’Em has a solution. A magic computer, with an ego, that can answer any question! That will two million piasters please! Cash or cheque?
Needless to say deploying a new IT system is a major project and things are never as easy as the sales pitch makes them out to be.
Will modern technology make Iznogoud caliph instead of the caliph? Read it and find out!
The Road to Nowhere, The Golden Touch and Much More
In the other stories in this collection Iznogoud and his faithful servant Wa’at Alahf (more puns yeah!) get stuck on the road to nowhere, experience the Midas touch, carry out a high stakes heist and get conned by Notsobad the sailor with toothpaste.
Iznogoud is a greedy, conniving and somewhat cruel little megalomaniac. But sometimes you can’t help but feel sorry for him. He’s persistent and driven by his dream to be caliph. Yet over and over again fate, circumstances and his own blinding obsession cause his plans to fail. In very entertaining and funny ways!
Then again this is a guy who invents new taxes for fun in order to bother people… I’m pretty sure laughing at his self-inflicted torment won’t bring you any bad karma!
The Art & Writing of Iznogoud and the Magic Computer
Rene Goscinny is one of the most widely read authors in the French speaking world (and in Western Europe) and established himself as a master of comedy with his other titles like Asterix (adventure in the ancient world and slapstick comedy) and Lucky Luke (adventure in the Wild West and situational comedy). Iznogoud and the Magic Computer is funny but the core of all the stories is always the same. “I want to be caliph, instead of the caliph!”
That being said Goscinny and Tabary’s take on the historic Middle-East and their juxtapositioning of modern ideas, practices and products into the ancient world is very funny. I loved the running water and air conditioning jokes in the first story! Sometimes you might have to re-read parts of the story just for some of the more subtle humor to sink in.
Iznogoud was created in the 1960s before political correctness took over so many characters are drawn as exaggerated ethnic stereotypes. But it’s mostly their actions and behavior that form the butt of jokes. There are no religious symbols or references in this graphic novel that would offend reasonable readers.
Iznogoud is a story commenting on the human desire for power and our never ending avarice as a species. And how the universe and fate doesn’t give a hoot about the best laid plans of mice and men. To comic effect…
Don’t let the jokes and exaggerations make you think that Goscinny and Tabary don’t know their Middle-Eastern history. They show a detailed knowledge of Middle-Eastern society, history, folklore and understand the power dynamics that underlie this region even today.
Their take on this is very French and very comedian, make fun of everything! So what if it offends people!! (I guarantee 95% of you will be more offended by modern kids TV shows than this)
Tabary’s style is very appropriate for a comedic graphic novel. His art is very cartoonish but with great facial expressions and body language for the characters. Actions are dynamic and flow. Tabary is a minimalist in every sense of the word. He draws just enough to get the idea of the scene across to you. Some panels have lavish backgrounds so you get a sense of the where you are and what is going on. Other panels just focus on the characters and/or the objects they are interacting with. Great attention is also paid to the characters costumes and environments. You really feel that you have been transported to Baghdad the Magnificent out of Arabian Nights!
Iznogoud and the Magic Computer is a graphic novel full of chuckles, smirks and sometimes belly deep laughs. There is some very subtle humor buried under the obvious puns and comedy, which makes this a very re-readable book.
Get it now to fill out your collection of Rene Goscinny’s comedy classics!
Good as a coffee table book to entertain visitors (or shock them if they are over sensitive heheh)!