Propaganda – Laura Howell serves up Hell on Toast and other delights
This is Propaganda, I’m Richard Bruton and this is what I’ve been reading lately:
My daughter starts reading the Beano.
I notice that Ratz is drawn by Hunt Emerson.
I see one of Steve Flanagan’s posts about how strange it is to see Hunt in the Beano, having grown up with him, as many of us did, through furtive looks at Firkin in Fiesta. (and whilst on the subject, isn’t it telling of my life as a comics fan that I genuinely did read the Firkin strips and not just look at naughty pictures of ladies?).
I mention all this on my blog.
(one of the diverse cartoons from Laura’s Strip-a-Day Spectacular which kicked off the year with 31 very different strips for every day of January – a great way to start a new year; (C) Laura Howell)
After that, things took a familiar course: two hours of mooching round her website later I’ve got another new artist to follow. You should now be going to Laura’s website and spending a couple of hours discovering all the great stuff there. In fact, don’t even bother finishing this, go now.
The obvious highlight has to be The Bizarre Adventures of Gilbert & Sullivan (2002-2003). It seems Laura has been doing this for years (strips collected here) before deciding to reformat a single A4 strip into 6 pages, making it a genuine manga strip and entering it for the International Manga & Anime Festival 2006. Of course, knowing a great Victorian Manga Comedy when they saw it the judges awarded her 1st prize in the print cartoon comic category straight away. Hurrah.
(The award-winning Bizarre Adventures of Gilbert & Sullivan by Laura Howell)
The Bizarre Adventures of Gilbert & Sullivan is a great place for you to start an investigation into how good Laura is. It’s a cutesy, strange, super-deformed take on the playwrights and creators of light operetta, featuring super guest appearances by Wilde, Poe, HG Wells, Shelley and so many more. It’s just very, very funny and it’s such a shame that it’s never been collected. But it’s all online for your delight.
Another fantastically funny strip is Hell on Toast, or at least it looks like it would be because sadly there’s only a taste of what looks like a very, very funny strip on her website. It would be really nice to be able to see some more. Laura describes Hell on Toast as: “A project I seem to have been working on forever, with many different incarnations. The core of it is a story about a boy with a sixth sense, Satan’s offspring and a bunch of demons. It’s not nearly as serious as it sounds.” To me it just screams class, but as we all know class rarely equals commercially viable. Shame.
(“If you’re going to mess with eldritch forces, it helps to have a working knowledge of geometry.” Quote and picture pinched from Laura’s site and (C) Laura Howell)
Even a casual look at Laura’s website will show you a wealth of ideas and talent that remains criminally undeveloped (seconded – I loved Laura’s strip-a-day marathon at the start of the year and wouldn’t even have known of it if not for Hunt, it’s worth checking on it’s own, then there’s so much more as a bonus! – Joe). But even on the basis of what work is there, she’s obviously a very talented cartoonist. Now, will someone please give her lots of money and get some of these great ideas collected into print? Please?