Review: Welcome to Sunshine Bay…

Published On March 7, 2014 | By Richard Bruton | Comics, Reviews

Sunshine Bay – Not half as bad as people say!

Tom Plant

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Sunshine Bay, a good, old-fashioned holiday resort, the English seaside town they forgot to bomb (as that Morrisey put it), one that’s decidedly seen better days, streets empty, pier half fallen into the sea, the golden sands and picturesque rocks framing one end of the bay spoilt by the Sunshine Bay chemical plant just around the headland.

Frankly this looked my sort of thing from the cover, the old school scene capturing the town, packed with cartoon detail, exaggerated moments, capturing the look of an older generation of cartoonists and comic makers. Heck, there’s something of the Giles about the cover, and that’s something I rarely say. It’s a beautifully designed little thing as well, this A5 landscape comic opens with that delicious cover and closes on the back cover with a mocked up postcard from Sunshine Bay. I reckon a close up of that cover would come in handy right now…

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And that’s the epitome of what Plant’s look is here, this has a good bit of the seaside postcard about it. Not the modern, boring photo things, no, I’m talking of the old-fashioned nostalgic look, where cartoons and caricatures were all the rage.

Inside, when we see some people it goes from Giles to Charles Peattie’s Alex, the caricatured facial expressions and exaggerated body shapes in the two stories here delivering the look and feel of simple cartooning whilst actually telling something akin to modern folk-tales.

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In the two stories you’ll read of tale tales of giant fish, the impossible catch dreamed of by fishermen on a quest, you’ll meet mermaids and walk the seashore with slightly socially inept young men with metal detectors stumbling across the odd coin and the even odder miniature alien invasion.

Both are simple tales, very gentle, but skillfully done gently humourous things. And all of it set visually within that same seaside postcard style.

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You can see from those two pages just how expressive Plant is here, his bravado filled fisherman pompous and full of himself, his metal detecting manchild captured perfectly in that moment where jubilation turns to embarrassed realisation, swiftly followed by a sulky retreat.

Sunshine Bay is a lovely little comic, from an artist new to me, possibly new to you. I’ve had a little explore of his website and would advise you to do the same, not forgetting to get the credit card out to buy some of his work here at his shop. Compared to his illustration work I’ve seen, the work in Sunshine Bay is in his style, but has that nostalgic yesteryear look that raises it up that little higher, something a little different, and well worth a look.

Plant’s a UK cartoonist and illustrator, freelancing with projects such as Sunshine Bay, as well as working for the likes of The Beano, The Guardian, The Oldie. Alongside this he works for educational software company Nessy. Later in 2014 there should be a strip in Jamie Smart’s forthcoming Moose Kid Comic and a film, Art Bastard, from director Chris Lawrence, Plant and illustrator Leah Hemming, based on Plant and Hemming’s Art Bastard comic.

UPDATE, LATER IN THE DAY… I knew I’d forgotten to mention something here, I went to bed last night with an annoying nagging feeling that the review was unfinished, and now I’ve realised why…. I meant to mention Plant’s webcomic Vergil….

tumblr_n18cnxEiiq1tsntgeo2_r1_1280 It’s very new, only a few pages up yet, so very little to say about it beyond that it’s Plant’s style in Sunshine Bay with a more modern edge, and as for content, Vergil seems to be set in something akin to the present, with Vergil some form of government or corporate presence, ubiquitous and controlling in all those little ways that slowly creep into modern life.

Worth keeping an eye on both Plant and Vergil. Very good all round.

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About The Author

Richard Bruton
- Started in comics retail aged 16 at Nostalgia & Comics, Birmingham. Now located in Yorkshire, he's written for the Forbidden Planet International Blog since 2007. Specialising in UK Comics and All-Ages comics, Richard's day job in a primary school allowed him to build the best children's graphic novel library in the country.

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