“Welcome to the northern seaside town of Fathomsby; home to retired super-heroes, monster DJs, mutant prostitutes, pier-owning gangsters, disgruntled policemen and a woman who knows exactly what you’re thinking about, whenever you’re thinking about… S-E-X.”
Hirst says in his intro that it’s all thanks to North Yorkshire’s Robin Hood’s Bay, the Psychoville TV show and the glorious Carter USM’s song “A Sheltered Life” that Too Much Sex & Violence exists. And having first hand knowledge of all three of these things, I can concur…. put them all together and you have a great experience, modern life, weirdness, urban decay meets country living.
But although I might know the combination of sleepy yet interesting holiday town, ex-League Of Gentlemen players next project and a great debut single from a favourite band could generate a very weird and good story, I’d not be able to write it.
Rol Hirst can though. And he has. So welcome to Fathomsby….
Welcome to a sleepy little coastal town populated by all manner of strangeness, all manner of freaks imaginable. Walk along it’s picture postcard streets and you may bump into many characters. And you may well run screaming from many of them….. but the problem you might find with Fathomsby is that you just can’t escape from its clutches.
There’s old Harry Hall, geriatric superhero, who gets sick and tired of those horrible little kids bothering him. Old Harry’s got a temper though. And with his powers that’s not a good thing, but his actions set the whole story off, a murder that may reverberate around the town…
(Andrew Cheverton artwork from the Rol Hirst written Too Much Sex & Violence #1)
Then there’s Gary Gore, local radio DJ, with a peculiar request show where listeners send a pint of the red stuff in for a song.
Or shop owner Dot, with a sideline in mutant prostitution, who ends up offering liquid solace of a very personal nature to the dad of the kid who was bothering old Harry. “Was” being very much the operative word.
(Martin Eden artwork from the Rol Hirst written Too Much Sex & Violence #1)
But there’s no point him going to the police about it, since they seem to be controlled by the local gangster, who dispenses quick and brutal justice to those who step out of line in the town.
And then there’s Rusty, who’s come to Fathomsby to investigate all the strange, nasty little rumours for his website, whilst leaving girlfriend Kathy at home, poor Kathy, who just can’t stop herself seeing all the dirty little thoughts you’re thinking. Like Rusty says… “there’s some seriously weird shit going on in this town“.
And into all this walks DI Sam Kamara, an honest cop sent here as a punishment for who knows what, wondering why Fathomsby, with a near zero crime rate, has such a strange reputation. He’ll find out soon enough no doubt.
(Paul Rainey artwork from the Rol Hirst written Too Much Sex & Violence #1)
So, weird? Yes. Intriguing? Entertaining? Oh yes. But Hirst doesn’t just throw these characters wildly at us, there’s a story developing, a mystery developing with the town at its heart. This may be a freakshow, but it’s a freakshow you can’t take your eyes off. Here we have the intro issue, a welcome to Fathomsby and it’s population of very strange residents.
Each resident is handled by a different artist, a necessity as Hirst points out in his intro, and it could have been a problem, could have been the biggest failing of the comic. But Hirst’s actually turned it into a feature, each different artist, each separate style now acts , not as a jarring switch in one story, but as a visual movement through the many, each artist focusing on a separate character of the interlocking tale going on in the town. And each artist delivers really well. Sure, some are more technically proficient than others, some may impress more (but that’s merely a question of personal taste), but each one takes their plot point, their little piece of Fathomsby, and really makes it their own.
This is one of those first issues of a series that you finish and immediately want to reread, just to make sure you got everything. It’s a really good introduction to the story, to the mysterious world of this bizarre, dangerous, otherworldly town of Fathomsby, and all its dramatic, complex, entangled and mysterious residents.
You can buy your copy of Too MuchSex & Violence #1 (and you should) from Rol Hirst’s shop.