Cover, design and editing by David O’Connell
Contributors: Anna Jay, Barnaby Richards, Ben Whitely, Cliodhna Lyons, Dan Berry, David O’Connell, Ellen Lindner, Ellie Partridge, Helen Entwisle, Hugh “Shug” Raine, Jeremy Day, Jess Bradley, Joe Decie, Julia Homersham, Lizz Lunney, Michael Leader, Philippa Rice, Rick Eades, Sammy Borras, Selina Lock, Timothy Winchester
Ink + Paper …..such an evocative little title for the little A5 sized anthology, bringing to mind thoughts of tactile pleasure and the creative process.
David O’Connell intends Ink + Paper to be comics plus, an outreach thing going on, with the anthology presenting itself in sections; longer features, short stories, fact based comics, science, travel, food, artist profiles, even down to craft features and a couple of recipes. It’s all about “comics and creativity“, and it fulfills O’Connell’s remit with style and class.
All in all there’s 27 pieces across 92 pages, featuring many artists familiar to regular readers of the FPI blog. I’ll not try to cover everything here, there’s simply far too much to cover. But there are some lovely strips in Ink + Paper, and I would like to imagine there’s going to be at least a handful of things in here for even the most severe of critics.
(David O’Connell art on Selina Lock’s story)
O’Connell provides a lovely London-centric cover, but redeems himself for us non-capital dwellers with a beautifully realised strip written by Selina Lock that covers the true story of Lady Grace Drummond Hay, first lady to circumnavigate the globe onboard an airship.
The big, big problem with Lady Of The Skies is that, with just 9 pages, it’s just too short. I’d cheerfully have read so much more, but even constrained, Lock and O’Connell fill me with intrigue – I want to know so much more about a character they make fascinating. For instance, the obvious tension between Drummond Hay and her traveling companion is not imagined, it’s very deliberate, and wouldn’t it have been lovely to see Lock and O’Connell cover this in so much more depth?
But if Lock and O’Connell have to summarise one long journey, Hugh Raine chooses to summarise a life, in four pages, and just four meetings, and it’s a cracking story, deliberately brief, the fleeting glimpses acting as the story, resulting in a perfectly bittersweet moment.
It also continues a seeming obsession with observatories, with another lovelorn young man ageing across four perfectly tinted pages, the potential love of his life always just a moment away, perennially out of reach. And his art style is just as quirky, just as sweet as in previous astronomically based tale Find Comet.
(Left: Cliodhna Lyons. Right: Joe Decie)
Further in amongst the feature comics, Cliodhna Lyons dazzles again with four pages chatting about a key and just what it may do. Small simple story and lovely artwork, that explodes beautifully as the small becomes big, the story about a key becomes one of infinite possibilities.
Closer to the ground, but no less enthralling and entertaining, Joe Decie adds a subtle set of colours to his delicious washes in a similarly small scale work (but from Decie it’s what we expect and what we enjoy).
Ellie Partridge’s Parallel Me is a really perfect little one page flight of fancy, reminiscent of Sarah McIntyre perhaps? And then just a few pages later she’s back for more, just as good, another one-pager on her perfect market.
The quality keeps high right until the very end, where the food section is a high point of silliness and fun: Ellen Lindner reacquaints us with Bubble Tea (as introduced in the pages of the recent Comix Reader 2), Philippa Rice lets Cardboard Colin bake a cake, whilst Julia Homersham educates us in the ways of New Zealand cake making with the strange delights of Lolly Cake and Lamingtons. Homersham’s work here is such a big step up from anything I’ve seen of hers before; lovely linework, great colour, a real treat. And she makes those Lolly Cakes sound delicious in the process.
Ink + Paper joins a growing list of excellent anthology works out there. The determination of O’Connell to make it comics and a little more marks it out nicely as something just that little bit different, gives another dimension to the work.
If I had to really throw a criticism in its path, it would simply be one that most people picking it up wouldn’t feel. The string of anthologys in recent years; Solipsistic Pop, Paper Science, Birdsong/Songbird, New British Comics, The Comix Reader, The Sorry Entertainer et al means that there’s so many slots to fill, but equally it means I’m exposed to a lot of repeated names. I’ve found I’m just not discovering new artists anymore. Like I say, probably a situation unique to me.
And certainly not a good enough criticism to stop you picking this up. I don’t want you to think I’m damning this with faint praise. Absolutely not.
If the biggest fault I can throw at it is that the majority of the works in here were fun, enjoyable, well done comics by a group of artists I’m already familiar with, I think it works very, very well indeed.