Propaganda – great comics? It’s elementary, my dear Watson
This is Propaganda, I’m Richard Bruton and this is what I’ve been reading lately:
Written and illustrated by Andi Watson
The obvious thing about Glister, after you get over just what a glorious little objet d’art it is, is the fact that it’s incredibly slight. But it’s just a first issue, just a comic, no matter how gorgeously wrapped up in a nice thick cover and proper spine it is.
But past the gorgeousness and over the slightness. Next comes the reading. And the reading is fun. Lots of fun. Watson has switched back to his early style of cartooning to present a lighter, looser and more rounded cartoony style reminiscent of his earlier work on Skeleton Key, which, coincidentally is here as a backup strip. Personally I prefer the slightly more mature look to his four great works; Little Star, Breakfast Afternoon, Slow News Day & Love Fights. But Glister suits this style. It’s written for the style. It’s a fast, cutesy romp of a comic and works, as usual with an Andi Watson comic, perfectly.
(panel from Glister #1 by Andi Watson, borrowed from his Flickr page of art)
The Glister of the title is one Glister Butterworth, “a girl who’s a magnet for the weird and unusual”. Essentially Andi’s produced a catch all character he can hang wacky stories from in Glister. The first issue is all about a teapot haunted by an author who then proceeds to get Glister to ghost-write his final, great, unfinished masterpiece. The second issue sees the Butterworth’s house up and leave after taking offence at criticism from the Bonny Village competition. Glister and her father are left homeless and have to try to convince the house that it needs to return home.
To be honest it’s just too hard to really find fault with an Andi Watson book, so I’m going to try really hard to hate his next one………
Written by Andi Watson, art by Josh Howard
Oh crap, this one’s bloody great as well. So much for an objective, reasoned review. I just can’t do it with Andi Watson books. They’re all just too bloody enjoyable.
Clubbing is Andi the writer rather than Andi the cartoonist. He’s ably assisted on the art dues by Josh Howard (writer/artist Dead@17 – which I completely missed when it was out in 2005. It’s meant to be good though). Clubbing is also another book from DC’s Minx line of girl-friendly books that has been a complete success for me at least. But as a 36 year old bloke I’m not sure I’m the reader they’re after (see here for the Propaganda takes on the Re-Gifters and the Plain Janes).
(meet Charlotte Brook in this page from DC’s Minx title Clubbing by Andi Watson and Josh Howard)
Clubbing is by far the best of the Minx bunch so far, elevated to another world of fun and all round feel good vibe by some excellently observed and exaggerated characters, a rollicking line in comedy asides and quirky one liners all wrapped up in a story that’s part Midsomer Murders and part Wicker Man.
After getting caught with fake ID in a London nightclub, Charlotte Brook gets shipped out to her grandparent’s country club. But Charlotte’s just not a country girl, preferring the Ministry of Sound to the W.I. and $300 Bette-noir heels to regulation green wellies. So she’s not happy with being dumped in the middle of nowhere, with no mobile signal, no email and no social life beyond the next cake decorating competition. Worse yet, her grandparents expect her to work in the golf shop for her keep whilst she’s stuck in this country hell.
(Charlotte meets the British countryside and its charming weather in Clubbing, (C) DC)
But things start to look up when she discovers the grounds-keeper’s son is a rather cool storyteller. And then things get a little more exciting when she stumbles on a murder mystery on the 19th hole and starts seeing signs of a bizarre satanic cult operating out of this sleepy little village. Or could it just be that Charlotte’s boredom is feeding off her favourite gothic romances?
Surely Andi Watson is worthy of the title greatest cartoonists in Britain by now? Certainly best young cartoonist. I’ve yet to read anything by him that doesn’t make my life a great deal better. And his body of work keeps getting better. Each year he consistently produces great works, yet manages to mix up style and content to seem fresh and new each time. Long may he continue.
Both Glister and Clubbing are thoroughly enjoyable, delightful and fun books. Clubbing 2 is already being talked about and Glister Butterworth’s adventures continue every month. Andi Watson; Britain’s greatest young cartoonist – it’s a statement that I’ll not argue with.