Inside Outsiders is the new work by John Robbins, the 42nd publication from an Irish artist who has made his name through dense cutting politics, often dealing with mental health issues and sexual nature. If you've been around the UK independent comics publishing history for ten years, doubtless you've come accross his name. I'm a fan of his work, obviously an immensely talented artist. though at times feel a common desperation that these are thick, dense - like ' comics concentrate'. His applied craftsmanship as a creator would seem to take a lot of work, and similarly as a reader it can be quite difficult to digest.
Inside Outsiders then, is none of that. If Robbins makes comics concentrate, this book is ready to drink. It comes containing all the usual themes from the recently reprinted anthologies of his Leaflit series, but its very reader friendly, with an EC style cover, and a mock in-house ad that is timed with the story's pacing. Its only sixteen pages long but feels more content than small press books two or three times that length. The story concerns recognisable action figures venturing out of their environment to search for a missing friend divorced from the group through sexual tension's consequence. Comparisons with both Toy Story and League of Extraordinary Gentlemen are good descriptive, but not really fair. Robbins brings his kit of mischief, multiple definitions, paradox, and clever pace to the proceedings. This one is a real gripping page-turner. To cap it all off, Robbins has tuned his ready professional skill closer to his style of Eddie Campbell. Some might accuse him of ripping it off, but I think it helps with the translation.
This is one booklet I feel very confident in recommending, and a fine example of what can be done as a small presser, with all its creative thinking and freedoms. It consumes the line between mainstream entertainment influence and independent's internal realms of the mirrored sexual psyche and biography. Doubtless, if you've ever been put off by one of John's books in the past you should give this a go. And for people who want to learn how to make comics....
Inside Outsiders is available for around £1.50 ordering details from John Robbins at www.geocities.com/rhubarb108/downrightbockedy.html