Sometimes, when writing a love story, the quirkier it is, the better it is. Being quirky can very often mean you’re avoiding being slushy. This is heavily apparent in writer David Camus’ and artist Nick Abadzis’ The Cigar That Fell in Love With a Pipe.
Set against the amusingly turbulent relationship of Orson Welles and Rita Hayworth, The Cigar That Fell in Love With a Pipe tells the story of how world famous cigar roller Conchita Marquez and pipe-whittling sailor Wooden John came to fall in love.
The quirks ride high in this story, probably best felt in Conchita and John themselves – Conchita’s spirit resides in the very last cigar she ever rolled, which happens to be in the hands of Orson. Orson also possess the spirit of Wooden John, who resides within the pipe he lovingly carved of a sailor’s face.
There’s classic notions of unrequited love played throughout for Conchita, who becomes married at a young age to her cigar factory boss in order to keep her sweet. Even when she falls in love with Wooden John, he refuses to acknowledge her existence. However, once their souls become embedded in said items, it can only take the cigar-loving tendencies of Orson Welles to bring them together – as well as his calm acceptance of the situation on Conchita revealing her ghostly soul to him.
But The Cigar That Fell in Love With a Pipe isn’t nearly as cheesy as I make out. Perhaps that’s a sign of how wonderful this tale is that I can’t quite do it justice. Throughout, the story is laced with gentle moments of unexpected yet perfectly timed comedy – such as Wooden John proclaiming ‘holy smoke’ at his constant gambling troubles.
Abadzis’ artwork does much to enhance the push/pull feel of delicate drama and short, snappy comedy. There are panels where the characters’ faces are made up of little more than anime-styled dots for eyes and lines for eyebrows, yet these panels do wonders in emphasizing the more comic moments – such as that of Rita berating Orson on the state of their relationship.
In other moments, there’s more wonder to be awed by. The handful of dreams that Conchita experiences of being able to indulge in her love of cigars are shown via gorgeous, canvas-like illustrations of her soaring through smoke-covered night skies and across oceans, all finely detailed from the curliest strand of her hair to the tiniest house below her.
The Cigar That Fell in Love With a Pipe is a highly entertaining read. Armed with a bitter-sweet ending, it’s a tale with enough dramatic punch and humour to fully justify multiple readings.
Have you read The Cigar That Fell in Love With a Pipe? What did you think of it? Let us know in the comments section below or send us a tweet!