Ellerbisms Volume 2 & Volume 3
by Marc Ellerby
Ellerbisms is Marc Ellerby’s webcomic, updated three times a week with each page covering a little bit of Marc’s life; comics, music and the general day to day stuff of a 20 something features pretty heavily. I reviewed the first volume with some of Marc’s other comics a while back, and I praised it within reason, complaining that Marc’s scattershot approach to detailing his life page by page was entertaining but flawed. I wanted more detail, less jumping about from page to page, subject to subject.
But it stayed with me enough to be one of the few webcomics I have in my feed reader and will read every new episode immediately. There are maybe 10 or so webcomics that I rate this highly. And much to my delight over the months since the stuff in volume 1 came out Marc started putting more and more detail in his work, started linking pages, making more of a story from strip to strip. It just got better and better.
But something happened to Ellerbisms along the way whilst I was reading it, something absolutely remarkable and absolutely fascinating. Marc fell in love:
And, fool that he is, this love affair is being chronicled through Ellerbisms. So in Ellerbisms volume 2 we get to meet Anna who quickly becomes an integral part of the whole Ellerbisms experience. At first it was a series of sweet and interesting strips which may well have become tiresome in time. But then Marc did something incredibly brave and absolutely fascinating with his webcomic. It happened over the course of just three pages in the middle of a fun report on the goings on at Bristol Comiccon 2008. And those three pages made me realise that Marc was really onto something here, something incredibly personal and an immediate step up in how he dealt with his cartooning. These three pages proved to me what I’d been thinking for some time; that Marc had decided to try new things, to be more truthful and complete with his autobiography and to attempt a new, ongoing narrative.
And here they are; the three pages that made me sit up and really pay attention, I’ll meet you back here after you’ve finished them:
It’s just so utterly painful to read. Little touches make the difference; Anna’s face in the first strip, the two tiny word balloons crossing each other on the second page, the anger and intense regret on the final page. Like I said, incredibly brave and absolutely enthralling stuff. Sure, there’s a voyeuristic element to all this. But there’s also a sense of real honesty in chronicling the ups and downs of his life and his love that just proves utterly fascinating, a little shocking and quite worrying. Terrifying even. I’m terrified for Marc (and for Anna): Is it too intense, is it too much to chronicle something so young and new? I don’t think I could have handled it as well as they do at such a young age having their lives on the page like that. But in case you’re too worried now, it does get better for them, but even as he’s putting down all the fun stuff, all the music and the comics and the general goings on, there’s still a courageous refusal to skip over the darker, more worrying aspects of their relationship.
And just as his writing has opened up, become far more interesting over time so has his artwork, with a cleanness of line and a style that’s instantly recognisable as an Ellerby page.
I really can’t say enough good things about Marc Ellerby and his Ellerbisms. In all honesty there’s no real need to pick up volume 1, that’s just prelude to what is to come, it’s volumes 2 and 3 where the artist really shows his stuff. But for just a few quid extra, it’s well worth picking up all three for an incredibly reasonable £8.50 and getting the whole story, so you’ll be as enthralled at Ellerby’s growth as I was. Of course, you can always take the cheap way out and not spend a penny and read Ellerbisms online. But don’t be cheap. Read them online and then spring the cash to have them in lovely comic form. Each one comes beautifully packaged in a pleasingly tactile cardboard cover and they’re an absolute must.
Marc’s stuff online: his website, his portfolio site, his live journal, his Ellerbisms site, his Ellerbisms store. And while you’re there buying your Ellerbisms three pack, make sure you pick up a copy of his latest – rather a departure – Chloe Noonan Monster Hunter – because it’s great as well.