Verityfair issue 1 – Terry Wiley’s return is a magnificent start.
Verityfair Issue 1
by Terry Wiley
And so, after talking about Terry Wiley’s past works, and previewing the first part of this comic yesterday, we come to the first issue of Terry Wiley’s new comic Verityfair which he’s self publishing (The idcm he publishes under stands for “I do comics, me”, which tells you so much about Terry Wiley and his wonderful sense of humour).
As the previous posts should have told you, I’m a big, big fan of Terry Wiley’s work and Verityfair is absolutely no exception. This is a masterful piece of comic (and comics) storytelling and carries on Wiley’s fine tradition of being able to write fascinating comics about relatively normal people. More than that, Wiley seems to be able to write such wonderfully realised female lead characters – I’d be interested to get some female opinions on this but I really think he writes completely believable, sympathetic and overwhelmingly real women.
Verity Bournville is a wonderful mess of a person, as Wiley puts it in the introduction:
“She’s a mess, a loudmouth, a waver of hands, a pain in the neck, a cack-handed, bath-singing, confabulating pest. …. She’s a freeloading scrounger, a terrible role-model, part of the problem, a ringing inditement of our broken society, a blight on Britain! She’s a tropper, a diamond, a flinger of fists in defence of the right of every red-blooded Englishwoman to stay in bed until 3pm and stare at the sky blowing bubbles and practise her lines.”
But the lady herself, she just sums it up thus:
(Verity Bourneville, chatting to us, the readers. It’s a device Wiley uses a few times through this first issue – but he does it so damn well that it just feels natural, more like she’s talking to herself than us. From Terry Wiley’s Verityfair issue 1.)
She’s one of those never going to really make it, always struggling for the next job types of actress, with a penchant for parties and a liking for a drink. And that’s pretty much what happens in this first issue; but first there’s the troublesome problem of her current acting agency burning to the ground. But always hopeful, seemingly always up, Verity knows all will be well and after all, there’s always the temporary backup of working in her dad’s fish and chip shop whilst she’s between jobs.
But all of those irons in the fire she talks of take a little longer to heat up than Verity thinks (poor deluded actress that she is) and seven months later she’s still between jobs and smelling of chip fat. Verity’s hope does spring eternal though and it seems to pay off, as she gets the call from a swanky new London acting agency who want her on their books . And that means it’s back to acting, or at least trying to get acting work. And just that faint hope of doing what she loves is means just one thing ….. it’s party time! Heaven help London…..
Oh, it’s all wonderfully fun, and Verity is every bit the happy go lucky drunk; high on the prospect of new work, surrounded by friends and having a great time. And while she has a great time, so do we, since Wiley’s dialogue has a delightfully natural ring to it – these are the sorts of things we talk about down the pub, this is the sort of fun night we could be having, full of banter, laughs, giggles, teasing, new friends and family. Like Verity says as she (eventually) gets in: “Sigh … That were a good day, that.”
But there’s a dark side to Verity’s life as well ….. one that comes out later in the issue, with terrible nightmares that send her, vulnerable, upset and afraid across London to a mysterious man, obviously used to these late night visits.
We end the comic with Verity unmasked as someone else, both in name and character, sobbing herself to sleep in the man’s arms. It’s a shocking contrast to the happy-go-lucky, confident and free-wheeling character we’d been introduced to and promises us that Verity’s story may not be simply the daily life of a jobbing actress (although to be honest, Wiley’s so good at real people that that wouldn’t be a disappointment either).
All in all, it’s spectacularly good stuff, full of everything that makes Terry Wiley’s comics so great, but with an added dash of drama, intrigue and unbearable sadness for good measure.
(Verity singing, dancing and whirling her way through London’s streets, a touch the worse for wear. Wiley’s lovely cartoon art contrasting with the photo(shop) backgrounds he uses extensively through the issue. From VerityFair issue 1 by Terry Wiley.)
The art, with it’s reliance in parts on heavily photoshopped photo backgrounds, has it’s detractors and I know at least one publisher around these parts who really disliked that particular aspect of it.
But I’m loving it. It’s bright, fun and typical Terry Wiley. The background photo work just didn’t detract at all and, almost without exception, work seamlessly with Wiley’s character artwork. There’s a gorgeous sense of motion through the party sequences, he captures facial expressions and body language beautifully all the way through and just makes the whole reading experience a stunning delight. There are two versions of the comic – colour and black & white, but the colours in my copy are so lush and lovely that I honestly can’t imagine it without them.
It’s early days of course, but (and say it quietly) could this be the best thing Wiley’s ever done? I’m beginning to think so. It’s really that good. Here’s to the return of Terry Wiley, hopefully at the start of an extended return to comics. If they’re all this good, surely fame and fortune, or at least a little recognition will come his way soon.
Verityfair will be available from discerning comic shops from early October (yes, we’re getting our copies at FPI stores – of course) and there will be a big pile available to buy at Thought Bubble in November and maybe issue 2 as well. My fingers are crossed.
But if you can’t make shops or Thought Bubble, then Terry is taking orders through email/paypal: firstname.lastname@example.org; £2 plus postage for a black&white insides issue, £3.50+P&P for a colour insides – although trust me, it’s definitely worth the extra £1.50 for colour).