Propaganda gets its teenage kicks in glamorous suburbia

Published On November 20, 2007 | By Richard Bruton | Comics, Reviews

This is Propaganda, I’m Richard Bruton and this is what I’ve been reading lately:

Suburban Glamour
by Jamie McKelvie

Suburban Glamour 1 Jamie McKelvie.jpg

Emo girls and Emo boys living in small town in distinctly non-Emo Midlands, living normal teenage lives where the boredom and drudgery of going to school is broken only by a few parties, a bit of drinking, a few recreational chemicals and a little bit of sex to alleviate the crushing tedium of being a teenager.

Oh yes, total normality. Except for old imaginary friends coming back to issue grim portents of doom, the fairy realm reaching out into the real world and monsters appearing out of nowhere to wreck everyone’s buzz.

This is the set up for Suburban Glamour – the new series from Jamie McKelvie, artist of the recent hugely enjoyable Phonogram (reviewed here). But this time Jamie’s on his own, writing and drawing this series of magic, mystery and underage drinking. And he’s done a terrific job of it.

Suburban glamour panels Jamie McKelvie.jpg

(the very cool ‘advert’ strip by Jamie McKelvie for the first issue of Suburban Glamour)

Astrid and Dave are just an average couple of teenage friends living in your average bland backwater in the Midlands. The most exciting thing to happen is a party or the opening of a cool new clothes shop by an interesting New Yorker. But Astrid’s life is taking a turn that’s as far from normal as you could get. For a start she’s having bizarre dreams of strange worlds complete with threatening monsters with claws and lots of fangs. And after a particularly eventful party a speeding Astrid finds herself being warned that “something’s happening, something’s different… it’s big. And it’s centred on this town” by her imaginary childhood friends. Waking in the morning she shakes it off as another bizarre dream and tries to carry on with her normal life. But the dream proves to be a lot more difficult to ignore when stranger and more frightening things start turning up in town, all teeth and claws and threatening expressions.

I loved Phonogram and was really looking forward to this – and Jamie hasn’t let me down. Suburban Glamour absolutely works; McKelvie nails the idea straight away and paints a perfect picture of suburban teenage life, full of monotony and the crushing desperation of trying to be an individual and still part of your crowd. But he then manages to drop the mystery and fantasy elements into the mix without missing a beat.

And the art – oh it’s nice. Phonogram was good, but this is better, there’s a sheen and polish to the art here, a nice simplicity of line, and Guy Major’s colours just give each page a final polish.

Suburban Glamour 1 Jamie McKelvie page.jpg

(panels from issue 1 of Jamie McKelvie’s Suburban Glamour, published by Image)

In fact, Jamie’s portrait of suburban teenage life is so spot on and enjoyable that it’s almost a shame to have the fantasy elements intrude. It’s reminiscent of some great comics, and I couldn’t help but compare it with bits of Jaime Hernandez in Love and Rockets – the sense of a young man writing about young life, taking the characters that he grew up with and spinning some lovely tales out of it. Of course, there’s a difference in scene and style, but the feeling is the same. The group dynamics of the Emo friends is really well realised and there are some delightful little touches in the dialogue to make your mind wander fondly back to your own troubled teenage years.

Of course, whether Jamie keeps it going at such a great pace is something I look forward to finding out. A great debut issue and I’ve got no problem recommending it to you all.

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About The Author

Richard Bruton
- Started in comics retail aged 16 at Nostalgia & Comics, Birmingham. Now located in Yorkshire, he's written for the Forbidden Planet International Blog since 2007. Specialising in UK Comics and All-Ages comics, Richard's day job in a primary school allowed him to build the best children's graphic novel library in the country.