Swimming With Shoes On – gags, gags and life on the road
Short Stories By David Ziggy Greene
Greene mentions in the introduction to this 68 page collection of various strips from 2005-2010 that his style is “neither indie nor commercial“. But I disagree, his style sits in a new area of comics I’m seeing right now, a modern indie style I’m seeing a lot of in the last year – a fun, lightweight, cartooning favoured by many amongst the UK small press (Jamie Smart, Dave Hughes, Simon Moreton, Hugh Shug Raine to name a few). It’s a lovely, easy on the eye style, and one I always seem to enjoy.
And David Ziggy Greene’s is no exception. His art is funny, lots of stupid characters, all drawn in exaggerated fashion to emphasise the silliness. And the strips themselves also have a delightfully surreal feel about them, full of ridiculous storylines, throwaway farcical gags. It’s a very enjoyable read, as Greene piles on the funny stuff. Yes, not every page works perfectly, but there’s at least a daft smile on every couple of pages, and that’s really a very good strike rate.
(Greene meets his biggest fan in Scarman. His biggest fan may not be very well.)
In the pages of Swimming With Shoes On you’ll see a host of strips, mostly gag strips, generally flights of ridiculous, surreal fantasy (Scarman, his disturbing convention experience has a little foot in reality, but soon flies off into the strange). Most of them are not more than a few pages long – Greene is a great believer is hitting us fast with the comedy and moving on. However, there are two longer strips. The first is a series of funny one page gags: The Unbelievable Adventures Of Chip Buckminster, where we join a manic spaceman wending his way across a very strange universe:
(Chip Buckminster faces off against a cosmic menace. Again. I’ve left off the punchline for you’re future enjoyment)
But the very best thing in Swimming With Shoes On is the quite brilliant 19 page strip of Cats On Tour. Feturing a very real band (Cats In Paris) Greene spends page after page of manic expression detailing life on the road with the art and descriptions flowing across the page just as the band snakes it’s way, chaotic and disorganised, across the UK. From crappy venue to even crappier venue, bad sound, bad overnight stays, a diet of crap – it’s all there. And it’s all lovingly and honestly cartooned by Greene. I’ve always been fond of fun autobiog strips and this is a great example of how to do it with fun and style. Each full page covers a new day, from start to finish, without panels and always with the gig taking centre stage, bursting out from the page. It’s high energy stuff, and a risky idea where the page could very easily get swamped by images without order. But, with rare exceptions, Greene pulls it off beautifully.
(Cats In Paris hit Bristol, and Greene sums a day and a gig up in a delightful full page of panel-less comics)
There’s an awful lot of manic energy in his line, and occasionally his layouts it may fall the wrong side of that very fine margin between inventive and out of control, but Greene’s work is, by and large, very funny and enjoyable stuff. Given the choice of more gag strips or another wonderful series of autobiog strips I’d definitely take the auto-biog. But I’ll honestly be happy whatever comes next.
“I just ordered copies of his book – we will have it on sale in Manchester, Liverpool, Leeds, Belfast, Dublin and Birmingham – from next week. I thought it was pretty funny – and like you the autobio bit way the best – he can draw too.”