Written by Laurence Powell. Art by Oliver Lambden
I first saw Tales From The Flat when I picked up the first issue last year’s Birmingham Comics Show. I’d been away from the world of the small press for a little while and was basically toe-dipping to see what the current scene was like. Nearly 12 months on and I’ve now seen a sizeable amount of the best the UK small press scene has to offer and I’m very, very impressed indeed.
It seemed fitting, a year on, to return to Tales From The Flat and look at what they’ve achieved over the year. The Tales From The Flat boys are now up to issue 7 and have also reprinted issues 1-6 in two very nice and very affordable collections, with just the same great production values as the first issue.
It’s very easy to catch up with the misadventures of our four hapless flatmates. After the initial settling in of the flatmates (moving in, party, interviewing life’s rejects for the fourth room, that sort of thing), it takes a bit of a superheroic turn with a flatmate undergoing a few pharmaceutical tests for a bit of beer money and coming out with the power to set fire to things. Hardly the stuff of the Fantastic Four though. Of course, as you’d expect here, Tales From The Flat is a superhero comic in the same way Shaun Of The Dead was a horror movie. So for these guys with great power comes the great responsibility of being able to light everyone’s joints without matches. And this is just what you want it to be. Just like Shaun Of The Dead, Tales From The Flat works best when it’s being funny, and I thought it suffered slightly when trying to wedge a daft superhero adventure into the tale with issues 4 & 5. But hey, that’s just me. And to be honest the boys still manage to keep the comic moving along well even in those couple of issues by mixing the superhero silliness up with some good old fashioned Kevin Smith style dialogue. (The obvious comparison really, especially when you look at something like Clerks and the quiet scenes in Tales either in the Comic Shop or the flat).
(Powers or a walking fire hazard? One of the flatmates tells his sorry tale of the things he’s done for beer money. From Tales From The Flat Collected Volume 1. (c) Modern Monstrosity)
The great news for me is that issues 6 & 7 are the best yet, with a focus back on the fucked up group dynamic with the introduction of Oliver’s good for nothing brother Toby & the local yoof gang the Ninja Crew. Like it says on the page; “Not a monster or robot for once”. I know Laurence didn’t mean it like that, but if they keep the story a bit more grounded and concentrate more on the day to day crap and less on the superheroing I’ll be very happy. Of course, even if they go the other way I’ll still be around to find out. And so should you. And just in case he’s feeling neglected, it’s a pleasure to see Oliver Lamden’s artwork getting better with every issue. Flat #7 is his best yet, with some really nice naturalistic cartooning and well handled action stuff. He can do dynamic and he can do talking heads and it’s all looking very good indeed for the future of Tales From The Flat.
(How to deal with that ninja infestation. From Tales From The Flat #7, where the superheroics are in there just for the gags. (c) Modern Monstrosity)
Tales From The Flat should obviously be available from most comic shops. But it won’t be. And that just means you’re possibly in the wrong shop. It’s definitely available from the British Small Press section on the FPI webstore, as well as from the Modern Monstrosity site and their blog, which also has plenty of other goodies and more information on everything Modern Monstrosity. They’ll also be at the Birmingham International Comic Show and appear most weeks at the Camden Comic Stall. The next issue of Tales From The Flat should be out before the Birmingham show, but as a teaser, Oliver sent over the limited variant cover for issue 8 by Gordon Johnston: