We first encountered the team from Good Comics at the Bristol Comics and Zine Fair back in October, and having crossed paths with them again at last month’s True Believers we thought it really was about time we wrote a bit about their unique collection of ‘micro-published’ comics and zines. We pick out three of the best from their recent winter line-up to give you a taster of the lo-fi world of Good Comics.
Ball game #1
Don’t be put off by the slightly amateurish and child like artwork on the cover of Paddy Johnston’s book because behind that is a really heart warming and endearing tale of growing up and trying to fit in. Ball Game chronicles Paddy growing up in the 90s and his various attempts to try getting into playing and liking sport in order to gain acceptance with his peers (until he discovers softball later in life). It is the kind of story that will probably hit home to many of us as we looked to find our identity and fit in other kids while growing up. As with a lot of Good Comics’ output what makes it so enjoyable is it is told in a really smart and unflashy way that makes it feel very relatable and identifiable. It doesn’t rely on hyperbole or sensation to tell the story, and as such has a real honesty to it’s story-telling as it doesn’t suffer from trying too hard to be cool. With an uplifting finale that celebrates inclusion and ultimately reminds you that you can find that thing which defines you in the oddest place, this was a really surprising read that we are glad we didn’t completely prejudge.
James Howard’s completely one of a kind creation features a chubby chap with 3 eyes, a star shaped mouth and a variety of awesome ironic t-shirts who goes on an adventure with his buddy who just happens to be a chicken. At least, it’s sort of an adventure. This insane collection is made up of a series of pin ups featuring the titular Chickenboy and his poultry pal in a variety of scenarios – facing off against killer slugs, hiding beneath weird statues or simply enjoying a nice cup of tea and a biscuit. Each page is beautifully rendered with some truly breath taking and mind boggling landscapes that mean you forgive any lack of narrative as you just spend your time absorbing each page and the detail within it. As you look through your brain does naturally attempt to apply a narrative to it, and there is some kind of flow. However, if you look closely, the fact that Chickenboy has a different t-shirt on every page suggests otherwise, but it’s nice to think that there might be some kind of bigger plan to what’s going on here! Every page is an absolute gem though, and at 72 pages it’s a relatively quick read, but one which rewards repeat consumption as after your first look through you need to go back to page one and try to figure out what hell you have just read. But you also need to go back and take in the sheer beauty and depth of each image! Its this which makes Chickenboy one of those great left field indie books that you don’t entirely understand once you have finished it but which you find staying with you long after you close that final page – especially as you inexplicably want to read again and again as it is definitely unlike anything else you’ve ever read or will read again!
Every Life I Ever Lived
This wonderful collection of autobiographical snapshots is perhaps best summed up by the artist himself, who describes his work as like “a mundane fairytale” in one of the later panels. This witty turn of phrase perfectly encapsulates what makes Everything I Have Ever Lived stand out from the crowd of auto-bio comics and stops it being yet another naval gazing exercise in self analysis. Scott’s series of 4 panel strips capture moments from his every day life in all their humdrum detail and so it reads like a candid diary rather than a long from narrative. This intimacy is amplified by the fact he only uses a biro and a notepad to tell his story, which makes it feel even more like a candid glimpse into his private world as he lists in detail everything from what he has for dinner and his daily grind as a reporter, to his fondness for watching wrestling and his love of drawing animals (all of which are rendered exquisitely!). Although it lacks any conventional drama, it has a real cadence and poetry to the writing that revels in the minutiae of the everyday and although it could be seen as incredibly self indulgent (the comics equivalent of a hipster’s Instagram account), it actually has this really endearing and understated subtlety which stops it from too self-congratulatory. With the words bursting out of the speech bubbles and some images escaping from the edges of panels as Scott misjudges his composition, it feels a bit unfinished but actually that gives it a real rawness and lack of polish, that in turn makes it much more believable and relatable. If it had the edges knocked off by tightening the composition or editing it to fit into the panels more neatly it just wouldn’t be the same and would lose a lot of it’s charm. Unfortunately we read our copy digitally, and feel we may have missed out on the addition of a tactile element for this book as we can’t help but feel that seeing it in print would make it even more like a clandestine glimpse on into the sketchbook of a really interesting story-teller.