Reviews: the Broken Frontier Small Press Yearbook

Published On May 24, 2016 | By Richmond Clements | Comics, Reviews

Broken Frontier Small Press Yearbook 2016,

Edited by Andy Oliver

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(cover art for the BF Small Press Yearbook 2016 by Danny Noble; header art by Alice Urbino)

If you’ve never heard of it, Broken Frontier is an exceptional website that spotlights the very best in Small Press comics.

The Small Press Yearbook 2016 brings together strips from Andy Oliver’s ‘Six UK Small Press creators to watch’ alongside a number of other strips from notable creators.

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(a page from Rozi Hathaway’s strip in the BF Small Press Yearbook)

First off, this is a very well put together collection. As mentioned in the forward by Simon Moreton, when we usually think of the Small Press, it’s homemade books. Photocopies and long-arm staplers. Long nights in front of the printer the night before a convention. This, on the other hand, is a beautifully bound book and printed on gorgeous quality paper.

But enough of the book porn. What’s actually inside this collection?

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(Above: a page from Jess Milton’s strip; below: a taster from Rebecca Bagley’s strip)

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The variety of work in here is extraordinary. The art ranges from professional quality to more amateur. And I don’t mean that in a pejorative way.

I have recently been teaching a comics creation course to a group of these young folks they have nowadays, some of whom had never written or drawn a comic before. One of the things I was saying during the course that there is a world of difference between drawing a good picture and drawing a good comic. Storytelling is far, far more important than any technical ability. I wish I’d had a copy of this to show them at the time.

The hilarious and moving ‘Plain as the Nose on Your Face’ by Danny Noble is a case in point. The art is deceptively simple. It isn’t though – it’s simplistic – which is a different thing. It has a great last line, and a wonderful and moving ‘after credits’ sequence…

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(Above: Danny Noble’s strip from the Small Press Yearbook; below: Adam Vian’s contribution)

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Ah, I’ve done it now and mentioned a story by name. That means if I don’t mentioned them all by name, the creators will assume I didn’t like theirs! Rest assured, creators, I adored everything in this book. Paul B Rainey even displayed the rare ability of being able to make me laugh out loud.

The strips range from single pages images to longer strips with pages packed full of panels. Each though, to my mind, has a broadly similar theme. The power of imagination, of how we can use it to escape and transcend sometimes horrible circumstances is a thread I see running though the book.

I really can’t recommend this book enough. This is what comics is.

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(above: Alice Urbino’s strip from the Yearbook; below: Emma Raby with Edinburgh’s famous, or infamous, ‘resurrection men’, Burke and Hare)

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The Broken Frontier Small Press Yearbook 2016 includes  8-10 page tales from Rozi Hathaway (The Red Road), Jess Milton (Red), Danny Noble (Was it… Too Much for You? and also our cover artist), Emma Raby (The Dead Moon), Alice Urbino (Dimension) and Adam Vian (Long Lost Lempi), plus contributions from two of BF’s new 2016 ‘Six to Watch’ Rebecca Bagley (Tick) and Kim Clements (Rabbit Thoughts) and more from small press creators who went on to “proper” publishing deals (many of whom will be familiar to regular readers of the blog), such as Gareth Brookes, Jessica Martin Donya Todd and Paul B Rainey. The book is is available from their webstore here.

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About The Author

Richmond Clements

Richmond Clements has been both writing about comics and writing the comics themselves for many years, as well as other works, including being an editor for FutureQuake Press and being co-founder of the Hi-Ex series of comic conventions in Inverness.

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