Avery Hill continue their amazing run of new titles for 2016 with the third issue of Ricky Miller’s time-traveling psychedelic indie adventure Metroland. Olly MacNamee takes a looks at the continuing adventures of struggling rock star Ricky Stardust and the enigmatic Jessica Hill in a book that’s like a cross between Dr Who and Twin Peaks, with a heavy dose of NME to go.
Publisher: Avery Hill Publishing
Writer: Ricky Miller
Artist: Julia Scheele
Price: £5 from Avery Hill Store
If, like us, you love music, then you love music with a passion that can sometimes be so consuming it gets in the way of other things entirely. It can block out life’s woes and tribulations and be as escapist as any sci-fi or fantasy film.
Writer, Ricky Miller, is one such person and freely admits his passion for music is one of the main driving forces behind Metroland in the notes accompanying the first issue of this promising time-twisting tale.
But, the time-travelling element is not so obviously explained in the first issue, reading more like a magic realistic forgotten Angela Carter short story, as we meet with the main male protagonist, the amnesiac Ricky Stardust, waking up with no recollection of where he had been the night before. Standard behaviour, one might imagine, given he is part of a band on the cusp of greatness. Well, in their own minds, at least.
But the more you delve into the story of Ricky, the ethereal and enigmatic Jenny Hill, and his band mates, as it unfolds over the first three issues, clues and inexplicable events in the ‘real world’ start messing with your mind and nudging it into realising not all is as it first seems. Elvis is president, and the news is dominated by the recent suicide of a middle-aged, washed out Kurt Cobain, while billboards boast of The Beatles forthcoming reunion tour.
Ricky himself, a somewhat disappointing twentysomething, lives in a huge castle he claims to have luckily inherited, at some point, and in which he and his drop out friends live in what seem to be a glorified squat. Music is their life, their soul, music is the food that gives them sustenance by which to continue in their hum drum lives, lurching form one gig to another in the twilight time and setting of pubs, clubs and other music venues, particularly the nightclub, Metro, a strange, Narnia-like setting with some kinda magic all of it’s own.
But, this is a world where the tragedies of musical history seem to have been avoided, or at least postponed. And not always for the better. What if Cobain’s best years were behind him? What if President Presley wasn’t the best democratically decided decisions the American public made? And, what’s all this got to do with Bowie anyway?
By the end of the third issue, we found that many of our questions were being answered, but not all. After all, there are further instalments to be read, but for now, the story that is unfolding is certainly one with one leg set in the sci-fi themed world of time travel, with another leg placed in the pop cultural alternative history of music and musical heritage. Like so many sci-fi stories, it poses the question: what happens to the present, when you start messing with the past? What if, rather than go back in time and kill Hitler as a baby, you go back in time and start saving your heroes?
The advise a writer often hears is, write about what you know, and that is exactly what Miller does, accompanied on art duties by Julia Scheele, who brings a ‘Love and Rockets’ sensibility to the story, which is appropriate for the story being told. This may have a very strong sci-fi slant to its narrative, but in the world that Miller is portraying, all hip young things and achingly fashionable ‘yoofs’ wanting to play the night away and party hardy, we think Scheele’s artwork is a great fit.
Author: Olly MacNamee
Olly MacNamee teaches English and Media, for his sins, in a school somewhere in Birmingham. Some days, even he doesn’t know where it is. Follow him on twitter @ollymacnamee or read about his exploits at firstname.lastname@example.org. Or don’t.