The Sorry Entertainer
Contributors: Andrew Cheverton and Rol Hirst, Brad Foster, Christopher Fairless, David Ziggy Greene, The mysterious Dr Thom Ferrier, The curious case of Jarod Rosello, Jason Martin, Jordan Collver and Richard Worth, Lauren Barnett, Loren Knack and Ron McVicar, Loris Z, Matt Reichmann, Nick Soucek, Noah Van Sciver, Paddy Lynch, Robert Malkin, Peter Batchelor, Rob Jackson, Sam Spina, and Simon Moreton
Another of those newspaper comic anthology things – which I really do enjoy. Something refreshingly lovely about getting the comics in your hands, unfolding the cheap, crappy paper stock and enjoying them for the comics, not just the formatting. (Old joke – what’s black and white and read all over… hah)
Anyway, The Sorry Entertainer – brainchild of Simon Moreton (of Smoo and most recently The Escapeologist) and Nick Soucek (Simon’s collaborator on Things In Panels). And yes, it joins a growing list of newspaper anthologies. And yes, it’s a themed anthology, but the choice of theme marks it out from the rest, with every strip somehow feeding into the “Sorry Entertainer” title.
So inside you find misfits, circus freaks, creeps, sad old theatre stars, up and coming no-hopers, unintentional performers, wrestlers standups, music hall entertainers and a lot more. In fact, there really did seem to be a lot of material in The Sorry Entertainer – far more than it’s 12 pages would lead you to think. In total we have 20 strips, by a host of names, some familiar to me/you, and some not so familiar.
I’m pleased to see a fair number of enjoyable strips, and a couple of really excellent ones. The good and the great far outweighing a couple that I just couldn’t fathom the reasons for their inclusion. Sure, this is all about delivering a short strip, and I can cope with a short strip that effectively says very little but does it with flair or a certain style. And I can cope with rough artwork that has actually got something to say. But when we have a couple of strips that have nothing to say and say it badly – ouch.
Okay, let’s concentrate on the good – Moreton’s cover strip, whilst a little under what he normally delivers still has a couple of great images and a beautifully disturbing moment:
Paddy Lynch’s inside front cover piece is simple, poetic, a subdued but delightful start…..
….perfectly counterpointed by Thom Ferrier literally looking at someone, for no possibe reason, just stood on top of a bloody mountain and screaming obsenities….
David Ziggy Greene pulls off a page of nothing, a quick gag about a wrestling bout going a touch awry and just dazzles with his art and design. It’s a beautifully constructed page…..
Richard Worth and Jordan Collver does the thing I was talking about – not saying much, with his two sides to a magician’s life 6 panel strip – but dear god, it looks gorgeous, and the playing card , double sided motif works a treat….
Christopher Fairless’ story says so much and does it so well, art is a subtle wash effect that doesn’t perhaps hold up to well to this deliciously crappy newsprint (but remember, I still love the crappy newsprint!)….
Matt Reichmann’s Killing & Dying is a great, down beat stand up strip…
Jarod Rosello nails the mood of hearing something beautifully uplifting as you walk by in the street in his full pager Cadenza….
And to end the review, Rob Jackson’s “Of course, in the days before TV we had to make our own entertainment” is just brilliant. Rough artwork as I’ve come to expect (and enjoy), but as is usual, his style, his sense of humour is just spot on. His densely packed full page (arranged as four A5 mini pages) follows the life of a pretty crap music hall entertainer. And right at the end, there’s a line that sums the strip up, and hopefully, will have you spluttering a morning coffee out, just like I did:
“I don’t have any regrets…. except for the vomiting – that was unprofessional.”
All, in all, The Sorry Entertainer’s a very good anthology. And for heaven’s sake – it’s but a quid. Where else are you going to get this much entertainment for a quid?