The latest issue of PJANG – it stands for People Just Aint No Good – is Rol Hirst’s comic of unsavoury characters doing various unsavoury things. And although the two comic strips and a 3 page short text story by Hirst have the required elements of “no-good-ness”, they’re not out and out nasty or horrible, not in a traditional sense – just horribly dysfunctional. And it’s this slight “there but for the grace of god” sense, that makes this a really satisfying little comic.
Both covers by Nigel Lowry are really nice entries into the comic, and once inside, Hirst has chosen his artists (fairly) well.
If you’ve been reading the blog for any length of time, you’ll have heard me mention Paul Rainey from his epic “There’s No Time Like The Present” (if not – see here) and his art on the first strip “Derek” is great – with a more open and maybe more relaxed feel to it (I imagine it must have been freeing to get away from the tight, controlled layouts and small panels of TNTLTP). The bigger style really suits his work I think and the story’s an interesting moment of “I know that bloke”, as Hirst’s picked out someone we’ve all most likely met at some unfortunate point in our lives or other.
Derek is a jobs-worth security guard – the sort of person that just loves sticking to the rules, no matter how ridiculously inflexible and out and out irritating it makes him:
There’s page after page of Derek’s inflexible routine and intransigent position on all manner of everyday office situations – refusing to open the door to an early bird until the alloted time, strict enforcement of the parking rules, deliberately unhelpful. We’ve all met a Derek sometime, and it’s that familiarity with the character that we can all enjoy. But when the office gets shut down and everyone but the security guards are laid off, there’s a surprise in store for us (and for Derek) as he finds himself at a bit of a loose end rattling round the empty building. The ending is a nice little twist and (almost) has us believing Derek could be nice if he but tried.
The second story, “Ex-Men”, isn’t quite as good, but still worth a read. Telling of a deluded, lovesick cleaner and the four ex-men in her life. Yes, “Ex-Men”, these blokes look rather familiar types – but these exes are all products of Margaret’s deluded, and eventually vindictive mind. A case of beware a cleaning lady ignored and with far too active an imagination. The story is weaker than Derek, but still fun enough.
Although Green’s art on “Ex-Men” suffers in comparison to Rainey’s – Green’s lines look too sketchy and unkempt – he does have a pretty nice sense of exaggerated caricature and quite neatly gets the fast flow of the storytelling.
As for Hirst’s 3 page text story (and yes, he admits in the intro that it’s there to fill a three page gap) – it’s good, albeit obvious from the second page just exactly where it’s going to be going. It all concerns a petty thief who targets ipod wearers, partly for the resale value, partly to build his music collection. Needless to say, it’s not going to go well for him once a victim decides to use a very modern form of techno witchcraft on him. Enjoyable, albeit slight.
If you want to know what I thought of previous issues the reviews are here – Issues 1 & 2, Issue 3, Issue 4. Issue 5 is available from Rol Hirst here. It’s light but good, and at £1.75 for a copy, comes in as very good value for money.