I review a fair number of things each month and every month I like to look back and pick the things I most enjoyed, because hey, sometimes you’ll miss something that’s unmissable, and it’s the job of this post to scream and shout about them once more…
This month, just as last, a huge grab bag of delightful stuff – top, top quality, with a number of these looking certs for the best of year list ….. Eight books in total – definitely a must to buy or read online… go, go, go and spend that money…
Jim Medway (Blank Slate)
Perfection. A beautifully realised comic that distills what it means to be a youth in modern Britain, and what it’s like when you’re just on the cusp of teen-hood. All done in Jim Medway’s signature style.
I don’t believe I’ve ever read anything that so perfectly captures the voice of youth as well as Playing Out does. It’s a perfect evocation of what it means to be navigating the difficult early teens and a beautiful, clever, and playfully uplifting reassurance that the kids really are alright.
Schoolgirl Jenny has a smart mouth and an even smarter attitude, stuck doing work experience in a wool shop, just one of a great, great cast of characters in Smith’s latest comic. The first line of the comic is one of the best, but certainly not alone in its brilliance: “It’s all pompons and wool and shit”.
Smith takes her cast and throws ridiculous thing after ridiculous thing at them, and has them react to it with such style, such comedy, that I honestly dare you not to be impressed. I Am Fire, just like everything I’ve read by Smith is bloody impressive, there’s that wonderful freshness to her stuff that just looks and sounds so good. Her art and her style is very now, very modern (and yes, very reminiscent of John Allison et al, but hey, wear your influences well if you must wear them, and Smith wears them excellently).
Johnson’s the artist behind the brilliant Arthur & Posy, I loved that one, and this first chapter of his new thing, writing and drawing, is just as good, just as strong, his artwork improved and beautiful. Big problem – no sign of chapter two!
It’s 33 pages where very little happens. But very little happens so beautifully well, with style, fluidity, and with great storytelling. 33 pages to introduce the cast; Drew, Nina, Toby, Yvonne, Alice, Matthew, Roza. 33 pages to have them move in, have a bit of a party, and not much else to be honest. And it doesn’t matter one bit. I was hooked from the first few pages, wanting to know more, wanting to simply enjoy the experience of sharing the world with the cast.
Joe Decie (Blank Slate)
Another collection of Decie’s sumptuously drawn scenes of family life, viewed through his slightly surreal, always utterly charming perspective. Artistically Deciee gets better and better, and his knack of taking a moment and spinning it off into somewhere unusual has the most wonderful sense of comedy timing.
With The Accidental Salad review I compared him to a mellow Eddie Campbell, and it’s still a very valid comparison. Decie’s observation is gentler, more sentimental, but the Campbellian touches are all there. And Decie’s getting better and better and better, the timing is perfect, the mix of reality and exaggerated surreality is spot on.
John and Patrice Aggs (The Phoenix Comic)
Such a fantastic piece of fun, sadly uncollected as yet following its original publication in The Phoenix Comic. As a complete work its a wonderful caper, set at such phenomenal pace, suspend your disbelief and join in the fun.
Zara’s Crown has all that same action and adventure style as The Boss, all that modern Enid Blyton stuff going on, and just like that previous tale, it’s very much centered around children. John Aggs writes up a storm of excitement, and mom Patrice Aggs brings all her skill and experience as a children’s illustrator to bear, but once again, proves she’s more than capable of delivering some top quality storytelling here.
and because we’re already on five, a trio just bubbling under…
Owen Michael Johnson and Indio!
Andi Watson (Walker Books)
Luke Pearson (Flying Eye Books)