Small Press Spotlight: Pup and Grumpicorn, Leaf, The Wedding of Njord and Skadi and Sliced Quarterly Volume 3
Our latest round up of the best of small press features a new collection of Pup and Grumpicorn stories from Gav and Emily Mitchell, Leaf, the latest from Fair Spark Books, Nordic folk tales in The Wedding of Njord and Skadi and Ken Reynolds final volume of Sliced Quarterly.
Pup and Grumpicorn (We Are Happy Clam)
Husband and wife team Gav and Emily Mitchell bring us a collection of stories featuring a hyperactive, doughnut loving dog and a moody unicorn in search of ‘noble foods’. The stories are set in a variety of locations from classic fairytale to the wild west and even outer space, but really it is just a vehicle for Gav and Emily to write some silly stories and tell some silly jokes – which is no bad thing! Their unique brand of goofy humour and sarcasm are brought to life by Gav’s superb artwork. It’s much lighter in tone than his work on Trolltooth Wars or Emily’s Brain Shoodles, but is a lot of fun all the same. With the kind of high energy silliness and attention to detail that we love in the Etherington Brothers’ work (including a Von Doogan style maze at the back), this is a little glmpse into what a fantastic comic a fully fledged Pup and Grumpicorn adventure could be, and we really hope we get to see more!
Leaf by Nicole Bates
The latest member of the Fairspark Book family, is Nicole Bates whose new book Leaf is a delicate and dream like story about a fox and a leaf. Following up her debut, Anxiety Me, this is a much lighter read than her debut but still utilises her ethereal watercolour style to create a flowing and lyrical story. In short: a fox follows a leaf which falls from a tree and sees him interact with a number of other woodland animals. Told without any dialogue, it is perhaps a little lightweight in terms of content, but as a book to encourage youngsters to get into comics, it is an interesting hybrid of children’s story book and comic that should appeal to younger comic fans in search of something that little bit different.
The Wedding of Njord and Skadi by Jon Mason and Simon Russell
We’re used to viking epics being all about big horns and bushy beards and so it is nice to read something a little more sedate and thoughtful in this new title from Jon Mason and Simon Russell. Based on an ancient Norse myth it sees giantess Skadi reluctantly wedded to Njord, lord of the Seaways in order to stop her from attacking Asgard. However this odd couple struggle to find common ground and it ends up almost the inverse of a classic love story. While the story is told in poetic clips of narration, it is the artwork which is truly something to behold. Russell’s painted style mixes media and has a flowing, brushstroke heavy approach which makes the book feel more like an ancient painting brought to life, rather than a comic. Although perhaps not the most accessible of stories, it has a unique charm and originality to it which makes well worth a look. (Although not if you are expecting the latest instalment of The Mighty Thor!)
Sliced Quarterly Volume 3 (Ken Reynolds Comics)
Ken Reynolds’ Sliced Quarterly Volume 3 has become a firm fixture of the small press scene in recent years, and so it is with regret that we look at this third and final volume. Originally started as a digital only release, it has developed into 3 print volumes containing some of the most interesting and original small press comics around – as well as a fantastic creator community. Ken’s intention with Sliced was to create an environment where creators could be free to experiment and as such the variety of work on show means in every issue, there is something much more interesting than your average small press anthology. It means creators can mix up their styles and try new and different ideas, but also it that stories from differing genres and art styles can sit side by side. This means abstract creators like Stuart McCune or Gareth Hopkins cam feature their work alongside more conventional stories like Matt MacFarland’s ode to Robert Crumb. The series’ open minded approach is perhaps best summed up by one of Ken’s own stories, which is told entirely using speech bubbles and sound effects. Not only does it show off Ken’s excellent lettering skills, but is also a reminder of how important lettering it to telling a story.