I like Greene’s work. Have since I first saw it way back with his first book Swimming With Shoes On, and I’ve followed since then, particularly enjoying his live music reviews in Stool Pigeon, and his mini-comic Snow Trap.
And now, as he says, it’s time for the “difficult second book“ Where’s North From Here.
70 pages featuring a variety of work from the last few years including the very enjoyable Snow Trap, and featuring Daft Punks, the art of sleeping through exciting train journeys, crowd-surfing adventures, extended looks at old men getting in and out of seats, rock ‘n’ roll wrestling, some of those live reviews as featured in The Stool Pigeon and more besides.
Some you’ve seen before, some perhaps not. All of these pieces share Greene’s controlled mania and a great sense of comedy. Pythonesque may be too lazy a comparison, but definitely elements of MAD, bits of Aragones perhaps, a sense of movement and comedy in the most ridiculous of things. Take these two as examples:
(The old man and the seat by David Ziggy Greene)
(Wheezer by David Ziggy Greene)
I suppose your enjoyment of those really does depend on your sense of humour, but there’s genuinely something wonderful about three pages of watching an old geezer failing to get out of his chair, or that page of Peter Bagge worthy exaggerated facial work.
There are also four slightly longer strips in here, Pichacho Del Diablo is a tale of Mexico, strange Gods, impossible sink-holes in kitchens swallowing up matriarchs … that sort of thing. A Complex Machine is all about some very dubious medical practices, very much to the left of alternative and then some. Both are funny, but neither really did the trick for me, and Greene’s art felt a little too cramped to do the storytelling justice, especially in A Complex Machine.
But the other couple of longer stories are simply superb… starting right at the end of the book with the previously reviewed Snow Trap – I talked before of this being a really well put together short strip of record shops and those who frequent them, employees, customers, DJs ‘borrowing’ the new wave section and a chase through the snow. Here’s just a little of what I said in that review….
“In just these few pages Greene pulls off some lovely, expression laden cartooning, establishes a fun little story – and somehow, within the ever so tight confines of the 10 pages, manages to pull off a chase scene and action packed finale. And he draws very good snow. Fortunate really, since it’s a good 4 or 5 foot deep by the end.”
(Snow Trap by David Ziggy Greene – still bloody funny)
But we’ll end this with the quite ridiculously manic wonder of Rubber Sandwich – a tale of criminal goings-on in the table-tennis world as investigated by ex-table-tennis national youth team member PC Lambert.
It’s stupid, it’s ridiculous, but it’s loads of fun, and somehow the table-tennis arena is rather perfect for showing off Greene’s wonderfully kinetic and expressive cartooning style.
(Rubber Sandwich by David Ziggy Greene)
As before there’s masses of energy in Greene’s art, but there’s also been a lot of development, a refining of his style, an ongoing distillation of the elements to make the pages work. Sure, there a times when it doesn’t work so well, but they are few and the times where he impresses me or plain out and out makes me laugh far outweigh them.
One thing I do miss in Where’s North that I really enjoyed in Swimming With Shoes On is the slightly more reflective, thoughtful strip to balance the manic. In Swimming that was the band diary piece Cats On Tour. Maybe next time.