It wasn’t all that long ago that I was reviewing the last thing pulished by Cliodhna – The October Anthology. And I did rather like her stuff included inside:
“……a great little 4 pager on star gazing and low flying aircraft …. Clioodhna’s style is very now, very easy on the eye and she’s an ear for dialogue and conversation that marked this strip out as a great opener”
But where her October anthology strip was a lovely little flight of fancy in black and white, constrained by the restrictive page count of an anthology – Underground is 20 pages of absolute do as you will, go wild, stretch out, relax, let the artwork and story breathe a little. And throw in some colour whilst you’re at it.
Cliodhna’s line art is thicker here, and even hough it seems looser, it’s packed with seemingly effortless control, the panels so big and bold, every line a treat, beautifully composed – it must take a lot of work to have art that looks this relaxed.
In fact, the first thing that got my attention past that rather nice looking cover was this beautiful frontispiece, lovely thick lines, a deftness of touch, and just that extra something that makes it all ….. wow (no matter how dire the scan of it is):
And from then on it keeps on impressing. Of course, Cliodhna’s open, 2/3 panels a page art, plus practically no dialogue bar the couple of tannoy messages means that there isn’t all that much to say about Underground’s story, in fact it’s more a tone poem or mood piece that story in itself – and that’s no criticism – it’s a fine, fine mood piece.
It all starts with what I presume is a little family, who find themselves trapped on a dull, greyscale tube train……
Pages of uncomfortable familial silence are punctuated merely by the ever-present screams of baby, temporarily drowned out for the girl by her iPod until it gives up on her in this great page – a combination of great lines, great body language and the simple yet oh so effective use of visual imagery – the baby’s screams, the music overlaying but never really drowning it out, and the disaster of that low battery icon:
And then this bloke gets on……
And things start to happen. Very strange things. Fun things. Interesting things. There’s absolutely no point me trying to talk about it since that would ruin the story, but I will say it’s a visual treat as Cliodhna creates a vivid and striking ending, a virtual technicolour explosion across the page and across the lives of this drab, grey little family – all centered around this mad Jethro Tull style busker.
Underground’s more an experience than a story, but it’s a really interesting experience, colourful and fun. Cliodhna’s art is so accomplished in Underground that there was a fair part of my reading mind could have done without the intrusion of the colourful tube-train guest – just a comic full of her observations of tube-train life may well have been enough.
But as it is, the colour work, playful and integral to the story (such as it is) is utilised with style and a sense of amazement – all in all, quite a great little comic.
Underground should be available from Cliodhna, she’s promised she’ll get her Etsy shop updated soon, otherwise email and buy one!