Ramollo-Speak explanatory notes

The story is mostly taking place in Ramollo’s dreams. It’s an extended nightmare. Throughout the nightmare he keeps feeling the pain of a sore throat, which is expressed in multiple painful images.

All the characters in the story pass through a stage of complete despair, hitting rock bottom, and then begin their own remarkable rebirths at the end of the story. However, the story also works in a circular fashion, and it begins just after a major catastrophe.

Page 1: Ramollo is recovering from an accident. Illegal Batman seems to be tending to his health, but is still controlling him. The accident has affected Ramollo’s speech and he cannot talk. When he tries to talk he has a coughing fit.

Page 2: Ramollo remembers a time when he was free from Illegal Batman. He was respected by two dogs in the park, Timos and Dinos. Ramollo’s recollection of his own power is that it involved surgery to change him in some way, but it made him a powerful orator.

Page 3: Ramollo continues to remember his time of power. He literally puts himself on a pedestal. The operation that changed him has given him horns and steel teeth. He wears a cardboard box to conceal his changed face, but this only makes him appear more frightening. He suggests a plan to Timos and Dinos. They are to kill Illegal Batman.

Page 4: Illegal Batman has become an apathetic, overweight alcoholic. He is unable to take action. The hot-line is constantly ringing but he ignores it.

Page 5: Ramollo now remembers another time when he was completely alone and abject. He feels very sorry for himself. His physical and emotional problems are all bound together.

Page 6: Continuing now to convalesce, Ramollo attempts to relearn speech. He makes unintelligible sounds and his body reflects his inexpressiveness. This is contrasted with Illegal Batman, who is a decisive man of action, referring to obscure deeds of heroism. His power is reflected in his ability to speak clearly.

Page 7: Timos and Dinos now carry out the plan to murder Illegal Batman. They do it at night when he is sleeping. They cut open his throat and insert a metal tube. Ramollo is in the space (it has become an operating theatre) and is nonplussed. His two smaller friends dominate him.

Page 8: Ramollo continues to pity himself. His misery is expressed in various images of throat and mouth pain and his inability to speak. He imagines that he, not Illegal Batman, has the metal tube in his throat.

Page 9: Ramollo has managed to absorb Illegal Batman’s power by taking his cape, although nobody can see it but him. He tries boasting about it to Dinos, who is impressed. His mouth is on the mend, since he can now eat an apple and drink coffee, and he has regained speech.

Page 10: Illegal Batman is barely able to stir from his chair. He is convinced he has accomplished nothing all year. The hot line has been ringing all this time, and he finally answers it, only to express further self-pity and doubt to the caller.

Page 11: Ramollo has recovered fully. He associates his recovery with his new steel teeth. He dismisses his followers, Timos and Dinos and alludes vaguely to his new skill. Illegal Batman’s cape of power is now visible. He goes hunting for food.

Page 12: Through reading books, Ramollo completes his rehabilitation into the human race, coming close to reversing the unknown forces that changed him into a dog in the first place (see ‘The Gardener in The Moon‘). Illegal Batman has an abrasive exchange with Commissioner Gordon, who barely recognises the former hero’s hermit-like countenance. Jordan Belson (an experimental film-maker in New York who was prominent in the 1960s) is also aligned with the spirit of making things new, and is inspired to make a new film.

Page 13: Ramollo succeeds on his food hunt by stealing various salamis and cured meats, and feasting on them. Gordon is concerned by the change in Illegal Batman, not for the threat it poses to the city, but for the fact that he is irreplaceable. He begins the process of a cover-up with his friend the mayor of Gotham City.

Page 14: The story of Timos and Dinos ends in futility (they bark uselessly at a tree in the park), although there is a chance of renewal for Dinos, who has dyed her hair red in an attempt to emulate Ramollo. Ramollo feels himself so invincible that he hops on passing trains without a ticket. He may be heading for the same accident from which he is recovering on page 1. Illegal Batman is also embarked on a course of self-improvement and signs up for gym membership to lose weight.

Page 15: The story ends with a confirmation of the mysterious powers of the Illegal Batman. He has been manipulating events all along. Ramollo is heading for a collision.

Ed Pinsent, August 2012