The Phoenix Weekender – Talking to the dead with the Murphys

Published On April 15, 2017 | By Richard Bruton | Comics, Comics For Children, The Phoenix Weekender

The Phoenix Comic is, in my humble opinion, the very best children’s comic out there in my humble opinion. You can find The Phoenix at your local comic shop (if they don’t stock it, well that probably tells you something) or subscribe. And I’ve been telling you all about it since the very beginning. Hopefully, each week I’ll highlight a particular strip and do a quick rundown on it. Spread the word one and all, this really is a comic more people should be reading.

This week it’s the turn of Adam and Lisa Murphy’s Corpse Talk. The concept is simple, but oh so good. Each week, Murphy digs up some historical figure and interviews them. And over many years, he’s interviewed the great and the good as well as the not so great and distinctly not so good as well. Initially a single page, it’s expanded to fill two pages, giving Murphy much more space to breathe on the page, more chances to inform and entertain. Because although in a lesser storytellers hands this sort of fact retelling thing could have come across as a bit dry, Murphy excels in bringing the stories alive, injecting humour where possible, often with himself the butt of the jokes. The facts are all there certainly, but the delivery is about as far from a boring History lesson as you could get.

Murphy, assisted by Lisa Murphy on colours, has covered so many historical figures, but right from the start the choices were far more diverse than history often reflects. Of course, this is a good thing. As is the change in formatting that happened after a couple of years of simple interviews. What tends to be the case now is that Murphy will interview the historical figure one week and feature more about them the following week. The interviews are done with traditional comic layouts but the features see Murphy really go to town with inventive layouts resulting in fact filled pages that your eye flies around perfectly.

This is Murphy sitting down recently with Mary Seacole, the much overlooked nurse who did so much to assist wounded soldiers during the Crimean War.

And this, from the issue after, is from Murphy’s look at the reality of the battlefield…

You get the idea, I’m sure. Week after week, Corpse Talk delivers history in the best way, bringing it (ahem) alive, making us think, making us laugh, making us realise just how diverse and interesting history really is. Here’s another recent subject, Mary Anning…

Most recently, the Murphys have switched it up again, with the debut of Corpse Talk Science Blast in issue 275. Again it’s a double page spread, but each week will see the focus turn to some aspect of science. This first one features Maria Sibylla Merian, naturalist and illustrator. Two pages gives us a massive blast of colourful science, where we learn all we could need to know of the Achilles Morpho Butterfly…


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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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