By Rachael Smith
Her Name Is Calla are the band, this is their Scooby Doo style adventure of japery and jinkys. Well, something like that anyway. Whatever you want to call it, I’ll tell you this upfront, it’s absolutely completely fun, wonderfully vibrant, full of joy, funny, and fresh. A great little comic from a newish comiker with great potential.
Inside you’ll join Tom, Adam and Sophie, three members of the real life band Her Name Is Calla as they head off for a weeks writing and recording retreat in darkest Whitby. Problem is, the place they’ve booked looks awesome (according to Tom) or haunted (according to Sophie). Have a look at the bottom panel below and I reckon we can all work out which member of the band is the clued-up one here….
Yep, atmospheric and then some.
In the nasty haunted house the band discover that there’s something mysteriously zapping their musical mojo, and there’s a pant-wettingly funny sequence as the true horror of just how musically-challenged they’ve become…. culminating with this…
Funny. Oh so funny. And there are bits like this liberally sprinkled through The Way We Write.
The band eventually come face to face with the problem; a whole cloister of choirboys, all the wrong side of living and breathing, who have a nasty habit of dealing with any musicians who come their way.
But they’ve never happened upon a Sophie yet, who packs quite a ghost killing talent under that very beautiful hair:
I’ll not give too much else away, as this is definitely one I really, really want you to experience for yourselves. But like most everything else in here, the dastardly plan and the reasons for it are both inventive and silly in the idea and the execution. There’s a wonderful natural touch to Smith’s dialogue and voice; as if we’re listening to a bunch of friends having a chat, with all the jokes, all the digs, all the easiness you might expect, and the occasional break the third wall or meta moment you may not. But everything here adds up to a really fun, really very good comic.
It’s extremely John Allison of course. You can all see that right? Obvious influence, even down to the little things like the flat solid colour panels. But influence is fine, Smith is moving along a similar style path, nothing more. And her art is definitely maturing and developing as she goes on, just a look at her other thing, the very sweet, very uplifting One Good Thing that we looked at in December. I said back then that there’s a naivety about her art, but that comes out as a positive thing, a youthfulness and flow that lightens it, adds to the fun.
Thing is, if you’re looking at The Way We Write as a comic to depict the music of Her Name Is Calla, you really couldn’t be further from the actual sound of the band., who are actually somewhere far darker and intense than the mood here. The NME called it “massive, pastorally apocalyptic music” and having listened to it through this review and beyond (isn’t Spotify just the best?) I can see what they mean, there’s a Radiohead meets This Mortal Coil thing there, and it’s a very involved, yet really rewarding listen. It’s certainly not the fun colourful vibe given off by the comic though.
Rachael Smith is fairly young, and relatively new at this game, but just like John Allison she has the style, the line, the skill to slowly build up an audience and be the next big thing. I’m personally really hoping to see more and more of her work in the years to come. You can find her at Rachael Smith Illustration and at her One Good Thing blog.
The Way We Write is released on 13th March direct from Her Name Is Calla’s bandcamp. You should definitely buy it.
There’s a launch night for the comic on 16th March at Leicester’s The Crumblin’ Cookie which includes Her Name Is Calla performances.