Pauline’s laughter, Colin’s private tears…. My Cardboard Life proves a delicious mix of sadness and laughter…
by Philippa Rice
Last time I looked at Philippa Rice’s My Cardboard Life i was rather bowled over by it:
“My Cardboard Life starts out as cardboard, paper and scrap material collages featuring Cardboard Colin, Paper Pauline and a host of other delightful and wonderfully silly characters, which are then scanned and uploaded to the My Cardboard Life webcomic. There are now six little print collections – lovely little (6 x 3.5 inches) handmade things with every cover featuring a unique collage.
It’s such a simple idea, bold, bright and joyful. But somewhere in between the idea and the finished product there’s a little magic to create the nicest little thing I’ve seen for a long time. These quirky delights sit very well amongst other firm FPI favourites – Lizz Lunney’s work, Philip Spence’s Ninja Bunny – where the concept, the idea and the physical nature of the idea as an object have equal weighting and equal appeal.
But My Cardboard Life, whether online or in print is much more than a cute and quirky idea – the strips are genuinely funny as well. Rice takes the simplest of concepts and creates clever, whimsical strips from them, some are funny in and of themselves and some are funny down to those few simple lines Rice adds to give a complete dimension of expression. But the very best of them play with the very nature of the strip’s form – making use of the cardboard and paper elements of the main characters. It’s very clever stuff.”
(Pauline – Colin’s absolute best friend? Telling truths that only a true friend would tell? Or merely a manipulative paper construct? Or am I perhaps reading far too much into this…. perhaps it’s merely Philippa Rice being damn funny again?)
This edition collects Rice’s personal choices of the Colin and Pauline strips, in a very professional looking comic. Personally I miss the old, self published days of hand made covers, complete with 3D effects with those bits of cardboard poking out but that’s just me. One thing I can’t deny is how strong a collection of strips Philippa has collected here.
For those who weren’t around at the beginning this is the adventures of two of Rice’s creations: Pauline (made of paper, self confident, flighty and slightly cruel) and Colin (made of cardboard, Pauline’s best friend, obviously madly, impossibly in love with her, pretty much a complete mess).
In My Cardboard Life Rice creates something very, very fun; a strip where the form and function meet halfway and between the two, form something very lovely indeed.
Much of the enjoyment of My Cardboard Life is through the knowledge of just how quirky the idea of the strip is – everything you see is hand-made by Rice, from paper, cardboard and various scraps of material and waste after all. It’s the ultimate perhaps in creativity, making your strip from everyone else’s old scraps of material and recycling.
But once the immediate fun of the form is overcome, there’s something genuinely funny behind it. And not just funny, My Cardboard Life is a little deeper than you at first might think. There’s a very dark streak running all the way through it. Cardboard Colin is deeply, madly in love with Pauline, that’s very obvious. But Paline’s treatment of poor Colin – that’s just cruel at times.
(Two My Cardboard Life strips that will either cut very, very deep, or just make you guffaw. Either works fine for me. Philippa Rice’s strips are funny, but there’s a steel beneath them that adds something deliciously dysfunctional to these very funny strips.)
I’m not suggesting you start reading My Cardboard Life as something other than a damn fine funny strip, but the depth is there if you want it. It adds a poignancy to the whole thing, a delicious topping perhaps to the funny stuff going on around it.
Whatever your take, My Cardboard Life is a lovely, vibrant, wonderfully colourful thing, and highly recommended to you all.
Philippa Rice’s My Cardboard Life webcomic is updated regularly. She’s also online at her Juzzard blog, has a great Flickrstream and everything that’s available to buy can be found at her My Cardboard Life shop.