By Sean Azzopardi, David Baillie, Francesca Cassavetti, Sally-Anne Hickman, Schmurgen Jonerhaffs, Rob Jackson, Oliver Lambden, Dan Lester, Douglas Noble, Lawrence Powell, Paul Rainey, Philip Spence, Nick Tesco.
The second outing for the B.A.S.T.A.R.D.S. crew of self publishers. It still stands for “British Artists Standing Tall And Reaching Distant Shores”. The first volume, a slimmer affair than this impressively thick second, was produced specifically to convince the selection panel at Angouleme Festival that this bunch of Brits were worthy of a place at Europe’s premier comics gathering.
This second volume’s reason for being? No idea. They may be heading off to Angouleme again, they may not. But dammit, they’ve been working hard since getting back and that seems as good a reason for putting it out as any.
Unfortunately for me, and depending on your involvement in the UK self published comics scene perhaps you as well, it may be a new collection, but a fair bit of the volume I’d already seen here, there and everywhere. (Philip Spence’s Fool’s Errand is at least a couple of years old – although it is quite lovely – review here). It’s not really a big deal, and I understand why it’s nice to have somewhere the various artists can gather up their stuff, but I think I was unprepared for it and was rather expecting all new material.
Having moaned slightly I have to say that old stuff or not, what’s here is pretty routinely good stuff, showcasing many very familiar names to readers of the FPI blog, with strips ranging from a page to 24 and on all many of subjects. Of the new stuff or at least stuff I’d not seen before there’s fun to be had from Paul Rainey’s sci-fi flat sharing comedy “Ghost Zombie” (a bizarre accident, a man’s soul leaves his body, together they are Ghost and Zombie) and Lawrence Powell and Oliver Lambden’s silly two pager “5 Things You Probably Didn’t Know About Giraffes“.
(Another secret of the animal world revealed. From 5 Things You Probably Didn’t Know About Giraffes by Lawrence Powell and Oliver Lambden, included in B.A.S.T.A.R.D.S. Volume 2)
Over on the more serious side of things, there’s new travelogue comics from Rob Jackson, whose “Tales Of Pusan” chronicles his time in South Korea, rather unsuccessfully teaching English. Jackson’s work is very raw, but there’s something very readable in his pages.
I haven’t seen any more of Sally-Ann Hickman’s comics since reviewing a couple two years back, but “I’ve Run out Of Tea” is a great slice of autobiog – roughly drawn in a style that reminds me favourably of Julie Douchet and is packed with energy and honesty.
I’ve never read any of Sean Azzopardi’s Ed stories, despite being a fan of his work (something I shall rectify when he publishes the collected Ed sometime this year), so his 26 pager here was a marvellous introduction (originally from Ed#4 but redrawn, relettered and greyscaled for the forthcoming collection). The Ed strip has a relaxed and more rounded art style than Azzopardi’s other work, and tied with a simple, introspective story of Ed attempting to find himself a studio and ending up converting his shed it’s made me look forward to more.
(The conversion from shed to studio is sidelined by old memories. From Ed by Sean Azzopardi, included in B.A.S.T.A.R.D.S. Volume 2)
And it’s also lovely to see David Bailie’s work again (at least under his own name anyway) – 18 pages, 6 strips and 5 completely different styles – with each strip and each style so easy on the eye that it’s a crime he isn’t more widely known outside self publishing circles. Within his 18 pages he goes from gentle reminiscence to wordless gag strip, to melancholic reflection and out the other side to gag and strange sci-fi ideas of robotic takeovers. It would be genuinely wonderful to see Bailie regularly getting a comic of his work out, but until then these short strips will have to do.
(David Bailie, included in B.A.S.T.A.R.D.S. Volume 2)
The highlight of the whole thing for me was Nick Tesco and Francesca Cassavetti’s pages from their forthcoming memoir Re-Members. Based on the 17 pages previewed here, I’m now really, really looking forward to it.
Tesco’s life as a near accidental punk and musician in The Members reads really naturally, with a simple storytelling technique – I don’t know how much Tesco is contributing to the writing (he’s certainly capable – head over to his Music Goulash blog for evidence) but I certainly felt the same sort of easy going, wonderfully engrossing style I got from reading Cassavetti’s quite lovely The Most Natural Thing In The World. And that, combined with Cassavetti’s always pleasing, simple and light line is enough to make me want more.
(Living the punk rock dream with Nick Tesco, ably assisted by Francesca Cassavetti, from Re-Members, included in B.A.S.T.A.R.D.S. Volume 2)
It is, as you might expect from an anthology, a bit of a mixed bag. Which is pretty much what I always say about anthologies. And pretty much what I always expect from anthologies as well. I never really used to like them that much, but over the last few years, with more and more quality artists appearing in them, I’m not put off any more. And certainly not by this, which is a fine, fine book anthology showcasing many, many talented artists.
B.A.S.T.A.R.D.S Volume 2 is every bit as good as the first, and certainly if you’re new to the strips, it’s probably better. The quality is top notch, and there’s more than enough really enjoyable strips to make it worth your while forking out a tenner for this really solid collection.
For more details check out the B.A.S.T.A.R.D.S blog. Copies are available from conventions at a very reasonable £10 and from the websites of various involved artists.