Sugar Glider Stories #1
Written by Daniel Clifford and Gary Bainbridge. Art by Gary Bainbridge, Daniel Clifford, Martin Eden, Matthew Craig, Graham Pearce & Jim Cameron, Lee Grice, Andrew Waugh, Martin Newman & The Christian, Dan Gilmore, Simon Cavanagh, Kevin ‘Gio’ Logue, James Cornell and Ian Mayor.
Sugar Glider Stories is an anthology style comic, with various artists illustrating the stories of Sugar Glider creators Bainbridge and Clifford. It’s a follow up to the first Sugar Glider comic, introducing the story and cast of characters in a very kitchen sink drama of a superhero tale I rather enjoyed:
“….And in this debut issue Clifford and Bainbridge do a really decent job of giving us an insight into the life of this far from average teen. The first seven pages are fantastic – a lovely look into the everyday issues of a teen, perfectly summed up by this first page of Susie’s standard week of classes, training, disturbed homework, more training and babysitting.
But what really marks her out as remarkable isn’t the athletics – it’s the habit she has of going out at all hours dressed in black and white spandex. Because Susie just happens to be the superhero Sugar Glider. She’s taking her athletics prowess and using it, along with the mysterious Sugar Glider suit, to do her best to right a few wrongs.”
Sugar Glider’s superhero story was short and well done, and Bainbridge’s art, thick line and nicely rough round the edges, handled both kitchen chat and rooftop dynamism equally well. And there was more than enough in there to make me end the review with a genuine wish to see more of what the pair had to offer.
Sugar Glider Stories is the next step for the character and her creators. An anthology book looking at events and characters other than Susie and setting up some of the storylines for Sugar Glider #2, due later this year.
There’s a nice interview on Daniel Clifford’s blog where he and Bainbridge talk through their motivations for going this route and although I can see what their plan was and why it’s so appealing to them, I have to say I feel it’s a misstep. Or at least a step taken too soon. I’m one of those people Clifford supposes may be asking “Why not wait until the three issues of Sugar Glider are out?”.
I just felt it veered to far into the territory of jumping around too much, with too many new faces and it distracts from the enjoyment of following the story of Sugar Glider – a story that had only just started by the end of Sugar Glider issue 1.
(Daniel Clifford art on the Sugar Glider framing sequence Breaking News from Sugar Glider Stories Issue 1.)
But with those provisos, there’s still plenty to praise in Sugar Glider Stories #1. Interestingly Clifford takes the art reigns a couple of times in “Breaking News” – the framing sequence for the comic – a sequence featuring one Detective Tiernan, someone it seems we’ll be seeing more of in future issues as the mystery around the Sugar Glider unfolds. Clifford’s art style is a very rough ligne claire – unpolished, raw, but there’s certainly something about it.
And if Clifford draws, there’s no reason Bainbridge shouldn’t write, both the framing sequence and “Work Day 200“, where he’s responsible for the art as well. It’s a great four pager – as revenge is exacted on a terrible boss:
(Work Day 200, art by Gary Bainbridge from Sugar Glider Stories 1)
Again, as with Sugar Glider issue 1 I did enjoy Clifford’s writing – he’s a good ear for dialogue. Tellingly, the best scenes, yet again, come when the focus shifts away from the action and the various new super-characters. “Father’s Day” by Clifford and artist team Newman and The Christian is loose, scratchy and raw – story and art – as we learn so much of Susie’s family around the kitchen table as Father’s day tensions for two generations come out.
(Sugar Glider Stories # 1 – a return to the great kitchen sink drama – art by Martin Newman and The Christian.)
And between Clifford and Bainbridge, with the promise of the framing sequence, the kitchen sink drama of Father’s Day and the ideas of Work Day 200 we have the best bits of the comic.
Elsewhere, the artwork is varied in style and quality, and it’s good to see nice pieces by familiar names Martin Eden and Andrew Waugh at the top end of the quality scale. But the whole thing is still all a little too fractured and disjointed for my taste. I can see what they’re trying to do, I can see their enjoyment of creating and introducing new characters to their story. But in the end I just think they’re going too fast.
It dilutes the impact of their primary story, and it’s a shame, because that story – Susie’s story, Sugar Glider’s story, they have more than enough to be getting on with – a good, intriguing story with great potential for action, adventure and everyday real life drama. The extras could come in at some later stage perhaps, but this just feels too much, too soon.
Don’t get me wrong, Sugar Glider Stories #1 isn’t bad, just rather unecessary to my eyes. I’ll still be around to see Clifford and Bainbridge return to their comic with Sugar Glider #2.
After great success at Thought Bubble, Leeds Alternative Comics Fair and through various retail outlets, Sugar Glider issue 1 has sold out of it’s initial print run and is now into it’s second printing. Congratulations to Clifford and Bainbridge on the news.