Paper Science – The Music Issue

Published On July 15, 2011 | By Richard Bruton | Comics, Reviews

Paper Science Issue 5 – The Music Special

By Philippa RiceMarc EllerbyHannah DonovanEdward RossSarah GordonJosceline FentonHugh ‘Shug’ RaineGeof Banyard and Adam Cadwell. Cover by Kristyna Baczynski.

Edited By Matthew Sheret

The latest of the We Are Words + Pictures produced comic newspaper is a fittingly summery music special. 10 artists take a shot at something I think is monumentally difficult; getting music down on a page, capturing what it is that makes music so important, so vibrant, so essential. And you know what…. they all do rather well.

First up is the highlight of the issue; My Cardboard Life artist Philippa Rice with Julian Steals The Show:

But this loose flowing piece, delivering a pitch perfect distillation of the feeling of music on a page couldn’t be further from her normal, structured collage work in My Cardboard Life. This is sketchy, loose and perfect for the theme. As the musical notes drift across the page, the artwork follows, loose pencil lines and simple colours tell a tale of musical inspiration, musical theft and Julian, quite literally stealing his ideas, his show, back from it’s thief.

Meanwhile, underneath what Pulp once referred to as “20,000 people standing in a field”, we have Joceline Fenton’s strange little creature, rather peturbed and aggravated by all that bloody festival noise going on above his head.

And did I say Rice’s strip was my favourite? Maybe joint favourite – because Fenton’s single pager is just gorgeous. I’d seen bits of her work here and there before, and always meant to look into it more, but as is the way, never got round to it. That’s a shame, and something I intend to rectify very soon.

Because her art looks great, very similar in style I thought to Posy Simmonds – her people have the same look, and that’s no bad thing at all.

Edward Ross’ Dust is a different style and theme again, this time we’re on a small desert landscape, where something small and alien finds a musical box and is deeply affected by the music…. although as it touches his heart, the transformative power of music in this case may not be for the best.

Ross gets bonus points for really working his page well, with varying panel sizes maximising the amount of story he gets across. It’s sweet and rather touching and does a great job of illustrating the transcendent nature of music… just look at that tear. Joe’s looked at Ross’ Filmish comic film zine before and says it’s very good indeed.

Adam Cadwell’s The King Of Things, because it’s a continuing strip, gets a bye on needing to include music somewhere. This episode we rejoing the King at the top of the beanstalk he discovered last episode, and he gfinds himself in the realm of the giants and we discover exactly how he came across that giant penny. How on earth he’s going to get it home is one for future episodes though.

Just as last time, King is sweet, brightly coloured, all ages stuff, with Cadwell showing a different and most enjoyable side to his artwork.

Sarah Gordon’s Pirate Radio is a funny, sexy, twist in it’s fishy tale strip, a great single pager telling of a trio of really rubbish sirens. A couple of slapstick gags, a great verbal gag – and all from just a single page – class.

Hannah Donovan delivers a page of single illustration; The Irrational Geographic Presents: Oceanestra. And although it’s mildly funny, in a project like this there’s part of me that thinks the page could have been better used as a page full of comics, rather than the indulgence of a full page illo. Likewise Geof Banyard’s poster – except that’s two story pages wasted. Nice poster, just as Donovan’s is a nice piece, just a waste…. give me more comics instead.

Right, back to the comics. What can I really say about Marc Ellerby’s Chloe Noonan that I haven’t already in the reviews of issues one, two and three? Not a lot, here’s four panels instead:

It’s Marc Ellerby, it’s Chloe Noonan. Her and Zoe are at a festival, Zoe gets pissed off at the ice cream prices, Noonan gets pissed off at being continually hit on. And it’s great, rally really great. Noonan gets to pull her nonplussed, pissed off face a lot and I get to have a great laugh. Brilliant. But you knew I would say that. I do want more though…. get drawing Ellerby.

Rounding the whole thing off we have another full pager on the back cover by Hugh Raine. But this is no waste of space thing, this is packed with Ribena berries at a gig, funny dialogue all over the place, to be read any which way, laughed at, and enjoyed even more.

Paper Science 5  has, I think, the best mix of artists I’ve seen yet for this project. Every comic strip was really enjoyable, there was no filler (aside from the issues with those wasted pages – but even they were well done). I’m liking the newspaper format as usual. All in all, a damn fine publication, well worth the £3 price of admission.

The next issue of paper Science, after the musical summer special is a back down to Earth with a bang, oh my God, it’s October and I can’t pay the rent after spending so much, Jobs special. More news on that from the Words + Pictures site.

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About The Author

Richard Bruton
- Started in comics retail aged 16 at Nostalgia & Comics, Birmingham. Now located in Yorkshire, he's written for the Forbidden Planet International Blog since 2007. Specialising in UK Comics and All-Ages comics, Richard's day job in a primary school allowed him to build the best children's graphic novel library in the country.

One Response to Paper Science – The Music Issue

  1. Matt Badham says:

    Wow, that Philippa Rice strip looks beautiful.

    And more Chloe Noonan!

    I’m definitely picking up a copy of this.

    Thanks for reminding me about it with your review, Richard.