Cindy & Biscuit – aliens, man-wolves, heartbreak and joy. It’s all here. It’s all wonderful.
By Dan White
Dan White’s “Cindy and Biscuit Save The World (again)” was the stand out story of New British Comics issue 3, and on the basis of that, I really wanted to see more.
Well, I’m so pleased to be able to say that it’s every bit as wonderful as that great cover would lead you to believe. Cindy & Biscuit really has something delightfully magical about it, and White has delivered a great comic, with a depth that surprises and adds to the experience.
It’s sweet, funny, action-packed but there’s an emotional layer in there as well, a rather heartbreaking reading into the comic – and it’s that duality that made me absolutely fall in love with Cindy and Biscuit. It’s only May, but I really think I’ve just found another best comic of 2011.
There’s three stories in this comic, starting with the previously seen “Cindy and Biscuit Save The World (again)”, of which I’ve already said this:
“Cindy and Biscuit manages quite a bit in it’s short 7 pages, starting as a neat little adventure, it does a comedic turn into slapstick comedy with a lovely sense of timing and then twists right at the end into something rather upsetting and full of sadness. It’s rather brilliantly done.
Cindy’s a country girl on a mission. And fortunately, in the back of beyond so favoured by Alien visitors, there’s a lot of saving the world to be done. But the great comedy action sequence is merely the start of her heroic adventure, not the end:
“Her real heroism comes when she heads home. Seeing this little thing have her life brought crashing back down to earth with the harsh rant of an uncaring parent (and it doesn’t seem a one-off thing either) – that’s when you realise the bravery in Cindy’s life is just staving off despair enough to go out and save the world once more.
The power of it is all in a few pages of tragic reality acting as a perfect counterpoint to the triumph of what has gone before. It’s a lovely strip, full of everything you want, 7 brilliant pages.”
Those two pages above really do capture everything I felt was the essence of Cindy & Biscuit, the stark contrast between a brave, alien hunting go getter of a lovely kid and the poor little girl she becomes at home.
And my description of that first story could so easily apply to the entire comic. Three stories, three absolute little crackers. Brilliance, beautiful, sweet, wonderful, yet slightly tragic.
The second story; “Cindy and Biscuit Vs The Man-Wolf”, is another story of Cindy’s bravery in the face of a hideous Man-Wolf. Although, just as before, the real bravery comes from Cindy’s homelife; mom heads out, leaving Cindy to make her own dinner, and when she gets home after the adventure, there’s no time for explainations, just shouting and getting straight to bed. Hers is not an easy life. Hell, sometimes it’s only the monsters that seem to make it fun.
(Cindy’s world comes alive when she thinks there’s adventuring to be done as she escapes her house to find the Man-Wolf. I love this page – particularly the wonderful facial expression in the second panel – pure, innocent wonder and excitement in just a few lines.)
“Cindy’s Dream” is the third tale, and it’s slightly different. Like the title says, it’s a dream, and it’s laden with symbolism, with wish fulfilment. And in Cindy’s case, that means a trip to the moon, where happiness comes in the form of Biscuit, ever loving, ever dependable Biscuit. And her biggest wish is to get a rock and “throw it so hard it would turn into a meteor and blow up the world“.
(Biscuit and Cindy, happy,together in Cindy’s Dream.)
Wanting to wipe everything away? It may only be a dream, but to my mind, that’s rather dark stuff. Terribly sad thoughts to come from a child.
And it’s that bit of Cindy and Biscuit that makes it something so special. On the surface, Cindy and Biscuit is a lovely, cutesy, action comedy about one little girl who has a knack for finding adventures in the back end of beyond. And as a comic it certainly works on that level. Works quite wonderfully.
But it’s the sadness and the quiet survivor’s bravery I read into it that makes Cindy and Biscuit so beautiful and so touching. The incredibly sweet lightness is made all the more special because of the bitterness and sadness that throws it into sharp relief.
Of course, I might be plastering a layer of meaning onto Cindy and Biscuit that White simply didn’t intend to be there. But I don’t care, it stopped being his comic as soon as I read it. My experience of his comic makes it my comic. And I love my comic very, very much.
And then there’s another reading of it altogether; what if Cindy’s just imagining these things, what if they’re simply daydreams, flights of imagined fancy or dreams? Certainly the latter is the case in “Cindy’s Dream”, but what if the aliens and the man-wolf are likewise, just the products of a (very) over-active imagination. Even then, if they are just fantasies, my reading of the stories plays again to the melancholic. Why does she imagine so much, why does she feel the need to get so far away from everyday reality? And again, I’m back with the story of a lost and lonely little neglected girl.
As one last image, I’m going to give you part of White’s final page in Cindy’s Dream. Not the final punchline, but the two panels before it. It’s not too much of a spoiler, because Cindy and Biscuit isn’t so much about the stories, which are quick and simple in terms of plot. Cindy and Biscuit, at least for me, is all about the huge emotional punch White’s managed to expertly put into such a quick and, on the surface at least, light hearted comic.
This is Cindy in her dream as she imagines the world exploding:
It’s an incredibly emotional moment. There’s the sheer joy you feel, a joy you can see in that beautific smile on her face. But then you realise, she’s smiling in the face of oblivion, as she’s freed from everything. The joy turns to sadness.
That’s what Cindy and Biscuit does to me, each and every time of the multiple readings so far – it fills my heart with simple joy and then breaks it apart. It’s a lovely little comic, a wonderful new discovery and something I’ll cherish. I think you should as well.
Cindy and Biscuit is available from Dan White at his webstore. You should go and buy it right now.