Ahead of its launch at next weekend’s MCM Comic Con in Birmingham, Olly MacNamee met up with Rees Finlay at a local Laydeez Do Comics event where he spoke a bit about the personal journey he has taken over the last year or so, which is the basis for his very personal of stories, The Blue Flame.
While only 24, Rees has lived a life of highs and lows, with many of those lows coming along all at once, like buses, and culminating in his recent self-imposed reclusiveness which, for those of you who won’t know him, become all to obvious upon opening up this autobiographical graphic novel.
Rees, by his own admission, was never the fully fledged artist and writer he wished he could be upon embarking on his desire to create a comic, but, we all have to start somewhere, right? However, in regaling the reasons behind plunging headlong into producing his own comics, and the success that saw his comic topping the indie comics’ digital charts for two weeks running – beating off a Metallica comic too – we learn of a grim career that would, over time, have taken it’s toll on anyone with even a modicum of morality.
This isn’t your average autobiography, either. As well as a non-linear narrative, Rees employs the literary conceit of the spirit guide, straight outta A Christmas Carol; three ghostly guides that will, in some cases, be familiar to follows of Damn Dirty Comics and explained as creations of Finlay’s mind to the uninitiated readers picking this up. A clever twist on this literary trope, having characters he’s created, and which are clearly allegorical in their creation and execution. Something an older Finlay realises now, looking back at the tragedies in his life that have brought him to the here and now of his present existence. A happy man, with years ahead of him and, in creating this book, a man more at ease with his own hang-ups and perceived failings. These guides, as with the Ghosts of Christmas Past, Present and Future do, offer Finlay insight into his own past, present and future, but unlike old Ebenezer Scrooge, Finlay has nowhere near the past misdemeanours Skinflint Scrooge had. But, like Scrooge, there is the sting of lost love and bad choices leading to bad things happening. Karma, or simply coincidence?
While Finlay claims this to be his last comic book, I think, once he has reflected on his own improvements as both an artist and a writer (the latter skill being the most improved, in my humble opinion) I am sure he may well be back. Bigger, badder than ever.
Check out The Blue Flame at next week’s MCM Birmingham Comic Con, or look out for it via this link. Happy reading.
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.