Twelve Hour shift is a collection of Sean Azzopardi’s mini comics of the same name; wherein the character of Sean is played by Steve Jones. This gives Sean free rein to do and say things he may not be comfortable doing if he were writing this as pure autobiography. But make no mistake about it, this is very much a thinly veiled autobiog comic. And a bloody good one.
It’s a tale of a twilight existence lived at the edge of poverty and despair in the temping world of our protagonist Steve Jones. It’s the world of the twelve hour shift endured by the porter, the concierge and the doorman. The world of bowing and scraping to the rich, the not so rich and the merely deluding themselves. This is a dark, gloomy tale which thankfully; due to Azzopardi’s writing, never sinks into the pits of dismal despair it had the potential to.
Of course, Steve Jones has plans, great plans of finishing his comics and doing his art and thinks the job might help provide the necessary time to get things done. But like most plans of this kind, it never quite works out properly and instead he finds the twelve hour shift grinding him down, destroying his creativity and ambushing his ambition.
Azzopardi does a good job of chronicling this descent into apathetic immobility. The first chapter; The Garden, catches Steve in a quiet moment, recently resigned from his permanent job as porter, looking to temp for a while and make best use of the time to get his art together. But the early signs of failure are there; Steve spends the time bouncing from anxiety over not getting anything done to relaxed and accepting, enjoying the peace of the weekend in his garden before heading back to work his notice.
(Even in the quiet, contemplative moments before tumbling back to work Azzopardi’s character cannot find true happiness. From Twelve Hour Shift by Sean Azzopardi.)
After this, it’s back to the job and then into an endless cycle of temp posts; complete with a cast of bizarre characters; colleagues, bosses, residents and more; all expertly realised by Azzopardi’s pen. All human life; it’s ups and mostly it’s downs are on display in the world of the concierge, just so long as you don’t fall asleep on the job.
In mini comic form this would have been impressive, but in one burst of the collection it’s much more than the sum of it’s individual tales. The unrelenting sense of lost dreams and stalled inertia is all pervading and builds throughout the collection. It’s not a fun read by any means but it’s certainly a good one.
(The rot well and truly setting in, all ambition seemingly lost, the grind of everday existence takes hold.)
Matthew Badham recently published an interview with Sean over at Overspill.
Sean has a website PhatComics; which is currently serialising his new, and very impressive looking comic; Necessary Monsters, written by Daniel Merlin Goodbrey.
Necessary Monsters also has it’s own website.