A grand folly, this, from Tony McGee, which throws all the shapes of a metaphysical examination of a couple of anguished lives, but just lacks sufficient exposition or dialogue or inherent analysis to achieve the kind of complexity that makes a story this brooding really involving.
The teenaged Gemma holidays on the remote island of her father Ė a broken man, detached and struggling for emotional sustenance. Conversation is brief, silences protracted; there is something not right with this relationship. Gemma retreats into fantasy, her father into reliable depression, but there is no escape: a sinister fog gathers on the horizon; it's moving their way.
Ambitious and downbeat, the narrative of Island lacks impetus due to the relative absence of a physical conflict, but with a beautifully conceived grimness, hypnotic rhythm, unearthly atmosphere and striking visual clarity, there is much to admire about this tentative yet devoted meditation on guilt.
Flip-side strip Isle is flimsy and conventional in comparison to its elusive neighbour, but boasts a polished story-telling which is technically faultless. Here, McGee's Sisyphus-like tale is superbly realised by the fine-tuned artistry of Chris Askham, to diverting, enjoyable-enough consequence.
A5, b/w interior, 56 pages, £2. Available from: Tony McGee, 143 Meldon Drive, Bilston, Wolverhampton, West Midlands, WV14 8BE. Check True Stories for further details.
Another tested to maximum sheet of stationers products transformed lounges various places on the desk of this 911 Truther who would much rather be out talking about Building Seven and Operation Northwoods. No, scratch that. I'd much rather be reading comic books by Douglas Noble, David Baillie and Daniel Merlin-Goodbrey. I'd much rather be reading this masturbatory and excrement concerned decorated mini booklet with its fine tones and tapestries, and its crucifixions, water nymphs and werewolves. Ben Oakes is a naughty man with a naughty sense of humour and some keen thoughts, and has a earned reputations for this image of a wild writing on-the-run, extremism and naked posing of discipline. Andy Tilley pens in his role as a composer possessed with the story's subtleties and ferocities. This won't be everyone's cup of tea, for one thing its a comic book not a cup of tea. Its for quick reading, disposable and enjoyable, enable Omega 3 time, read on autobrain. Now, perhaps I can get back to fighting the Bilderberg Group and Dyncorp, whose members I might add, wouldn't deserve a fun five minute read like this.
Fenn is available by emailing some request to andrew@t illey.orangehome.co.uk or ben_oakes@ btinternet.com
Its a small A5 16 pager that folds into the pocket for carrying during bus journeys and waiting stops.
This review can only cover Dream Logic issues #2 and #3 i'm afraid as Jez failed to forward me issue one, but you can hardly blame him as he is very busy reviewing... um... well nothing actually.
You're a lazy, lazy man Jez.
First off Apathy, a series of short, autobiographical stories which span a broad range of styles and themes. Unfortunately, as is the problem with most autobiographical stuff i read, i have seen it ALL before. The stories reminded me of the kind of brainstorms i used to do in my sketchbook for GCSE Art in their theme and pictorial representation, and is never unpredictable. After reading them i didn't feel i knew Robert any more than the stereotypical image of teenage angst/apathy that litters most blogs and diaries.
What i think makes people like Eddie Campbell and Harvey Pekar successful is the interesting way in which they deal with everyday situations, their perspective, and choice of what they choose to describe, sums up their personalities and make you feel like you know them intimately. Robert's philosophical musings are aimless and cliched and aren't personal enough to be intimate. The stories are disjointed an lack structure or progression- just because something is autobiographical doesn't mean you have to forget what you learned in English class.
Dream Logic is better, containing STORIES rather than musings and can often be quite amusing, Misogyny Man being a favourite (though under-explored) character. Robert has a few very different, stylised and distinctive drawing styles, that are clear and original and give the stories a personality that the writing dosen't have, he knows exactly how to illustrate a particular story, it's a pity the stories themselves are a patchy lot.
If Robert became more honest and honed his writing into something more unique to him he could have a winning formula, he has obvioulsy put alot of effort into his comics and because of this, i am encouraged to think that he will strive to improve.
The comics are good value for money at £1.75 for Dream Logic and 60p for apathy and are availabe from emailing him at firstname.lastname@example.org
One of the many problems with smallpress is that this whole 'creator control' thingy means that no-one actually needs to listen to critiscism, its not like a bad review means they aren't allowed to write again or their story won't be bought, a handful of people might actually listen to my opinion and buy a comic i reccomend, but how will that affect the big budget sales of comics such as those produced by Blink Twice? Well from the quality of the production values i'd say 'not much'.
The problem with Malcolm Magic is that Robin Etherington seems to think he is writing for comics with an A3 page size, which he isn't, and as such i opened this stylish and fun looking issue only to be confronted with two pages of tiny, tiny pictures and some of the most dense text this side of a Penguin Classics David Copperfield preface. This made me put the comic straight down again until i had a couple of hours and a magnifying glass handy. So not really one for the casual readers.
The art (Lawrence Eytherington) is amazing, gorgeous, amusing and distinctive, as well as wonderfully coloured in places (different art styles and colour represent alternative universes) but too crowded and reduced to be appreciated, making it very difficult to know what is going on until after at least one re-read. This is not aided by the slightly off-pacing which is ambitiously cinematic but rarely pulls it off.
An then here's the kicker, turns out that after a hard slog through twenty pages, nothing actually happened.
The plot to #10 is 'Malcolm and his friends meet a crazy ballon lady.'
Like an episode of Lost, it doesn't seem to be going anywhere and dawdles on subplots that aren't very interesting. I can see what the creators are trying to do, they are trying to produce a rich Discworld-esque universe, but it's too cliched to be interesting and not funny enough to be parody, though i think they think that it is.
In the back of the comic is an advert for the guys' new comic series 'moon', and if they have tightened up the pace, and relaxed on the panel count per page, it could be pretty good. But i'm not that desperate to see if Malcolm really is the chosen-one in future issues...
Their snazzily presented site is www.studioblinktwice.com
and you can order it online for the pretty reasonable-for-colour-printing price of £3.00
PS. Douglas? Have you been fired from your day-job or something? Because the amount of comics you are reviewing isn't giving me a good feeling about the richness of your social-life.
The twenty-four hour comic is an odd thing. When it works, and it can work very well, it can provide a story-telling experience that bypasses the filters that an artist or writer sets up for themselves. It can force new storytelling rhythms, and coax new subjects from a creator. Or not, as the case may be.
In 24 Hour Parting People itís a little of both. Craig uses the same sort of format familiar from his earlier comics by using a number of short strips to build a greater whole. Here he unites the strips thematically rather that narratively. Itís a good tactic, and allows the artist to parade the gallery of his creations in a variety of settings. The theme is love this time out, and the whole reminds me of the drifting feel of Richard Linklaterís films Waking Life and Slacker. Like those films though, youíre unlikely to come away with any new insights into life.
Those that have a problem with Craigís art style normally will have greater trouble with this issue. The constraints of the time limit means that he has abandoned formal layouts and employed a looser, more intuitive form. Surprisingly this works for the most part, and actually enhances the stream-of-consciousness feel of the title. The figure work is pretty much all over the place, but the characters are clearly designed, and Craig has a knack for including all the information necessary to tell his story.
Anyway, as I write this the next 24-hour comics day is just around the corner - this weekend in fact. Iím going to give it a go.
Most of Matthew Craigís comics can be found on-line at www.thematthewcraig.com, but the interested reader can also order this one for a single UK pound (or an American dollar and seventy-five cents), and that includes the postage, though with the new charges coming in who can really tell? Orders from email@example.com, with discounts on orders of multiple titles, or you can check out the shop at his website. Other titles, you ask? Tune in for more reviews soon.
This is the second part of our week long look at the work of Matthew Craig, and arguably this is the most important title in his library. Now, Iím putting my cards on the table right here Ė I donít especially like dogs. That said, I did like this comic, and let me tell you why.
In fourteen short chapters, no longer than a page or two, Matthew Craig traces out a full life. The comic takes us from the first glimpse of a puppy to thoughts on the death of the dog. Thereís no pretence that this is a full biography, but the events that are shown serve as signposts to what is left out, leading us to fill in the parts that we missed for ourselves. Itís a nice way to construct a story, and though each slight story is about the dog it is through his choice of anecdotes that Craig eventually reveals himself.
Like I say, I donít like dogs Ė but I can appreciate those who do. Thereís a real love here. Itís in every page, and a true sense of loss pervades the second half of the narrative. This comic-length look at the life of his dog, the eponymous Hondle, echoes throughout the rest of his work, either directly, as in the further adventures of the canine in Experi-Hondle, or indirectly in stories like War Dog, of which more later this week.
Craigís art here will still not be to all tastes, but thereís enough depth in the writing to more than make up for any technical inadequacies.
Most of this can be found on-line at thematthewcraig.com, but the interested reader can also order this one for a single UK pound (or an American dollar and seventy-five cents), and that includes the postage, though with the new charges coming in who can really tell? Orders from mattscrew at hotmail.com, with discounts on orders of multiple titles. Go and have a lok about the website to find out more.
Behind the serious and beardy face of old Charlie Darwin on the front cover lies Matt Craigís first comic, a collection of stories originally published on his website between 2001 and 2003. Darwin is My Co-Pilot was released upon an unsuspecting public in 2003, and much like John Henry Hartís first issue of Insipid Candy (which I reviewed previously for this site) it serves as both a summary of his work to that date and as an indication of where he wanted to go with it.
The issue begins with a neat bit of autobiography, in which Craig established his comic loverís credentials. It seems like a bold statement to begin your first comic with. Here I am, it says in no uncertain terms. This is me. Get used to it.
The other strips in Darwin is my Co-Pilot donít have the same bullish sense of self, and seem a little hesitant in places. In part this is due to Craigís fairly rudimentary art style, and loosely structured page layouts, but it is also because he seems to be getting used to the formalities of putting comics together. Certainly the most accomplished piece of writing in the comics is the three pages of text that lead into ĎMoirí, which has a lively and ribald sense of fun that wouldnít be out of place in a Dan Lester comic.
That said, thereís still a lot to like. The rampant barminess of Duck with a Gun brought a smile to my face, as did the plaintive cries of I Donít Exist. Itís also interesting to see an early strip in Craigís on-going Hondle mythology. More about that in a later review. All in all itís a spirited beginning Ė but itís where he goes next thatís interesting.
Most of this can be found on-line, as stated above, at thematthewcraig.com, but the interested reader can also order this one for a single UK pound (or an American dollar and seventy-five cents), and that includes the postage, though with the new charges coming in who can really tell? Orders from mattscrew at hotmail.com, with discounts on orders of multiple titles. Other titles, you ask? Tune in for more reviews soon.
ďYou totally loved this.Ē Thatís what weíre told on the last page of this 2005 comic, and Iíll be damned if itís not the truth. Julia Durgee provides a glimpse into what I can only assume is her life as an illustrator in the NYC fashion business, but instead of yet another slow autobiographical moan as we too often see, she busies herself with describing her surroundings and the people about her with rare insight. Itís nice work: in five short stories she gives a good account of the New York that she inhabits. In fact, the longest story in the comic is a tour of the garment district itself, complete with celebrity cameos.
However, nice as the stories are, theyíre pretty much overshadowed by Durgeeís beautiful art, which mixes McKay-ish linework in with elegant layouts and a truly wonderful sense of colour. The one page story about t-shirt design is one of the nicest things Iíve seen all year. Itís a lovely comic, even just to hold.
If I have any reservations, which of course I do, itís that there just isnít enough here on show. Between the covers there are only 12 pages to pore over, and though thereís a lot in each of these pages, Iíd really like to see the artist get her teeth into something with a bit more substance.
Iíve no idea how much this one costs, but go on over to www.juliadurgee.com and take a look at the beautiful art on display. You might even be able to figure out the navigation and be able to buy a copy!