For our latest round up of the best of small press, we take a look at three very diverse publications that will make you think as much as they will entertain you. First up is music themed anthology Radio On Broadcast #4 featuring some of our favourite small press voices, followed by a really interesting collection showcasing the roster of micro publisher Good Comics in the Good Comics Reader, and finally David Ziggy Greene’s latest collection, Times Like These.
Radio On Broadcast volume 4 (Analogue Press)
This super cool small press anthology features a host of stories with music as their theme. It features a nice mix of familiar small press favourites such as: Darrell Thorpe and his tale of finding creative inspiration via music playlist in a way a that only Darrell can; Luke Halsall and Nick Gonzo, who nail their political allegiances to mast with a Jeremy Corbyn themed mini strip; and the wonderful Emily Rose Lambert, whose tale of an armadillo bringing happiness to the world by turning its shell into a musical instrument has a haunting beauty to it, thanks to her beautiful watercolour artwork – and is a nice contrast to some of the more masculine tales on offer. But it’s not all old favourites, as there’s also some new names in there too, such as Joel Benjamin, whose tale about the awesome song Baker Street gets the story off to a wining start. And also Kit Palmer whose tale Caring Is Creepy, about gig etiquette and obsession is perhaps the stand out of the whole volume. At a time when it is tough for an anthology to stand out from the crowd, Radio On does a brilliant job, not just because it has a unique angle by having music as it focal point. But because it is also very slickly designed, looking more like an indie music mag than a comic. This give it an air of hipster chic and makes sure this is one of the coolest looking analogies around. Plus at only 36 pages long this is much more of a blast of infectious bubble gum pop instead of an overwrought prog rock epic!
Good Reader (Good Comics)
This selection of original work from some of Good Comics most interesting creatives, is a beautiful snapshot of their little corner of the small press world. From the haunting watercolours of Rozi Hathaway through to the surreal and hilarious world of Josh Hicks, it’s a fantastic showcase of this publisher’s work and also all in aid of a great cause as half the proceed will go to the Young Minds charity. Printed via risograph and on low quality paper it has a really tactile feel to it, reading more like a newspaper than a comic. For newcomers exploring the world of Good Comics for the first time, it’s a curious mix of stories, with a lot of them, veering towards the quirky and introspective end of the comics spectrum, which may make it a a challenging read for the uninitiated. However for those who have already discovered the work of the creators involved then this is a rather beautiful and very thoughtful (if understated) collection. Alongside the creators mentioned already, works like Elizabeth Querstret’s piece on the voices in her head or John Cei Douglas’ dream-like Angeline are the stand outs, and a great reminder of what a talented group of creators Good Comics have at their disposal.
Times Like These: Graphic Reports on Modern Life (Scene & HEard)
David Ziggy Greene’s Times Like These are usually seen in the pages of Private Eye, but here they are collected into one volume, along with some sketch book extras, to create a fascinating look at the modern political climate through a very unique perspective. Instead of simply being a series of gag strips or polemics about the major issues of the day, Ziggy Greene reports on events or moments and contextualizes and analises them to create a story out of what he sees. It means each strip has both the objectivity of a journalist, but the political passion of someone who really cares about what he is doing. He also looks at mainstream issues like Brexit or Austerity from unconventional angles, meaning you can never quite predict where each strip is taking you. Certainly the depth with which he explores certain topics and the denseness and intricacy of his cartooning makes each page feel far from flippant or throwaway and as such requires a proper read, not merely a quick glance and then move on to the next. With some of the early strips focusing on marches and political activism, it then develops to look at more quirky moments from a gathering of furries to a day at Cheltenham races, but even these feel like they have something to say about the wider world which is really interesting and through provoking. They are intercut with sketches that show David’s superb artwork in it’s rawest form, often fresh from the location of where he has been forming his story. With so much going on in every page, the denseness of the text and ideas on show can make it a challenge to read, however if you persevere (or read in smaller chunks) then the variety of options on offer make it a book that informs as much as it entertains, but also that encourages you to think and look at the world from a different perspective.