by Philip Spence
You might know Philip from his very lovely comic and webcomic Ninja Bunny (reviews here, here and here). But you might not know that, as well as crafting perfect little comics about small battling ninja rabbits, Philip also makes his own autobiographical comics.
The first of Philip’s autobiographical comics is Fools Errand, 24 pages beneath a card cover and a lovely transparent inlay to add a little something special to the comic, which he helpfully describes as:
“A true story of friendship, love and loss. But mostly indecision and insecurity”
I don’t think I’ve read a comic quite so wistful in a long time.
The 24 pages of Fools Errand follows Philip and his friends through a few days in their lives. The main thrust of the story concerns Philip and his attraction for his friend Alicia, who’s back home to Australia soon. Except Philip can’t work out exactly what he wants; keep the friendship and wonder what might have been? Go for the relationship and risk losing the friendship after all? Try for sex and friendship and no relationship and really mess it all up? Anyway, one night he finally decides to at least do something about it:
In the movies, it would all end with them falling in love, her staying in England and everyone living happily ever after, but this aint the movies, this is real life, so Philip ends up making a complete mess of it and never getting around to saying what he wants to say:
(A perfect case of missing the one moment to say something wonderful. Welcome to real life. From Fools Errand by Philip Spence)
The problem with autobiography in comics is that it tends to become just another bunch of talking heads with the main protagonist moaning about their life, especially their love life. Which is exactly what Philip is doing here. Except he manages to do it in such a nicely conversational fashion that it doesn’t matter about it being a stereotypically autobiographical kind of autobiographical comic. The conversations between the friends are natural and free flowing, including the oft quoted little factoid of the impossibility of humming John Williams themes one after the other. (Try it, hum Star Wars, then Raiders, then Superman – John Williams’ just uses the same themes fro each). I suppose the real proof that Philip’s onto something here is how painfully real and true to life it all feels, this tale of friendship that might want to be something more. He nails the indecision, the uncomfortable moments, the wish that it would be a little more like the movies and a little less like tongue-tied teenagers all over again.
And there’s something about the art that I really enjoy. A simplicity of his line, a style all his own, even the interesting way he puts shadow down onto the page. It’s all very, very good.
Fools Errand is available from Philip’s shop on his Ninja Bunny webcomic site. There’s a lot of good stuff on there, take lots of money.