Okay, first a note on that cover – it’s rather nice isn’t it? Simple lines, stark imagery, muted colours. Very nice. And it reminds me greatly of the style of comics I loved in my late teens/early 20s partuclarly the work of Phil Elliot. The style continues inside, very much harking back to what I remember, but in a modern updating – or perhaps this is one of those styles that looks relatively timeless anyway? Or perhaps it’s merely come round again?
Anyway, Crisp Biscuit Comics #1 is actually a really well done collection of short gag strips collected from Wells’ blog. There’s a lot of stuff going on, and if the definition of a funny comic book being one that raises at least a smile is true – then Crisp Biscuit Comics more than ticks that box. The smile was there pretty much throughout, with nearly every single page having something funny on it, whether it’s the ideas or the nice wordplay Wells is capable of, or the great comic timing he delivers throughout.
In here you’ll find; Twenty-Bore, his ongoing parody of got tired very quickly TV show 24; Amazing Political Fantasy, a what if the government were an evil, alien race (as opposed to a bunch of privileged, out of touch, near delusional crooks); superhero parodies X-Men Standard Parcels, Peter Pentel the Amazing Spider-Man, The Green C**k Ring and much more.
In fact I shall shut up at this juncture and simply show you:
So; funny and nice artwork, really good, crisp and simple lines, backed up with a minimal but striking colour scheme.
His blog doesn’t quite reproduce the print colours well (although it’s probably the other way around, or a conscious decision by Wells to tone down the colours to give that nice washed out colour you can see on the two examples above). Whatever it is, it works. So go and read them online if you have to, but to get the nicer effect, order the comic!
Wells also sent through several of his older works – much, much older. From the looks of it, Wells produced about a comic every couple of years or so for most of the 90s, and his style has remained there. Not a problem, if the style remains the same, his execution gets better and better through the years – the initial rough promise shown transforms into some very attractive work.
Now the oldest stuff is really rough, but even as far back as 1997 there’s some cracking work – with Crisp #2 from 1998 showing he’s more than capable of telling a story rather than just the gag strips I’d seen so far. It’s got a thicker line and style that obviously has Wells grasping at something along the lines of Jaime Hernandez (he’s not Hernmandez, I’m sure he’d acknowledge that, but it’s very good anyway).
(A Perfect Weekend by Robert Wells, 1997, from Crisp Issue 2)
Crisp # 3 – Gig Guide (1999) – very neatly done reportage of a night at a gig. Or maybe just a piss take comedy routine set to comic form? Either way it’s great to look at and funny to read. And the style, with lots of blacks, a thin, clean line – and the deliberate division of reportage text and comic art – very nice.
(The answer to the question at the end? Alcohol. From Crisp issue 3; Gig Guide)
Colin Comix #1 (2004) – not a collection of Wells’ poor little Rhino with the bottom problem, but a collection of strips, some that work, others that did little for me. But his Colin strips are consistently funny. Cruel and pitiful perhaps, but funny. First sign of a change in style as well, where the line thins and tightens.
(Poor Colin. Something is very, very wrong with this rhino. From Colin Comix #1 by Robert Wells)
There’s some reallly good work across more than a decade of publication in here. Ignore the really early work of Crisp Biscuit #1 (1991) and Crisp #1 (1997), but in Crisp #2 and #3 there’s some great storytelling and artwork, whilst Colin Comix #1 gives equal measure of cute and cruel gag work. But to really see Wells at his artistic best, this latest issue; Crisp Biscuit Comics #1 is the one to get.
You can buy Crisp Biscuit Comics and more from Wells’ website. Much of his work is available to see on his website, but really, play fair and buy something.