PJANG # 1 & 2
Written by Rol Hirst.
Issue 1 art by Tony McGee, Andrew Cheverton and Kelvin Green.
Issue 2 art by Davey Metcalfe.
People Just Aint No Good. That’s the title and the message behind Rol Hirst’s comic PJANG. I’ve read two issues of it and it certainly lives up to it’s billing; Hirst fills his comics with unsavoury characters, making us look at their motivations and actions but never letting us off with quick assumptions or simple cliches.
Issue 1 has three separate tales, all three looking at the nastier side of life, the side that makes it all interesting, whether it’s a writer getting a taste of his own personal hell, a tired old ad man taking the words of the late, great Bill Hicks far too much to heart or the sad story of a girl just too messed up by her own insecurities and self perceived failings to do anything but screw her life up. Each one works in it’s own way, with the first tale of the messed up wife punishing herself and screwing around to fulfil her own low expectations of the way her life should be that hits hardest. It’s unrelentingly, fascinatingly, miserable. And that’s not a criticism, since Hirst’s story drags you in, voyeuristic enjoyment satisfied as she finally completes her own tragic circle on the last page. The second tale is simpler, dark comedy rather than tragedy, with an old ad man changing his life and deciding to act on Bill Hicks’ famous idea of the only good ad man is a dead one. As serial killer ideas go it’s funny and original enough till the very end. The last story is the weakest of the three, possibly because Hirst almost gives it the upbeat ending you don’t want it to have after the setup of a dead writer’s introduction to the afterlife, in what he assumes is his own private hell.
(Andrew Cheverton’s art from Rol Hirst’s story of an ad man deciding to rid the world of people like hinself; the “creatives” of the advertising world.)
The art for the three tales couldn’t be less complimentary, each strip having it’s own, very different style. But all three artists handle the jobs and the stories well, with Andrew Cheverton’s scratchy style reminding me a little of Ted McKeever, no bad thing and probably the reason I preferred it over the others.
Issue 2 has just one tale; 24 Minutes, but written by Hirst using the framing device of a train station to allow him to tell three separate tales again. There’s the couple meeting up, trapped in that emotional dead zone between lifelong commitment and impending breakup. There’s the three businessmen back from training, passing time, talking shit and waiting to hear who gets their bosses job. And there’s the cleaner in the background, giving a voiceover to the story. The cleaner’s only really there since they took out all the litter bins to stop folks dropping bombs in them, but who stops the pissed off cleaner bringing a bomb in his own bin?
It’s illustrated by Davey Metcalfe using some very strong lines and lots of black that gives the comic a dark, menacing look straight away. The story itself, jumping between the three stories works really well, with the tension building until the end where all three stories get their eventual payoff, you might guess what the payoffs are, but it’s sure fun to get there. Enjoyable stuff, cleverly done and ably illustrated by Metcalfe.
Pjang is available from Rol Hirst’s website and issue 3 should be available soon.