For as long we can remember Matthew Dooley and Dirty Rotten Comics seem to have been intertwined in our consciousness as we discovered them both at the same time and they continue have a bizarre symmetry with the latest releases. Keen to perpetuate this connection we take a look at Matthew’s new book The Practical Implications of Immortality as well as the bumper 10th issue of the wonderful Dirty Rotten Comics.
The Practical Implications of Immortality
Winner of the recent Jonathan Cape Short Story prize, Matthew Dooley’s new collection of short stories and one off strips is another inspired slice of surreal nihilism mixed with daft stories about swearing birds and tall milkman. As with his first book Meanderings, each strip feels immaculately conceived and very carefully considered. His tight panels are both detailed and also wonderfully simple with almost no wasted effort. And his colour palette is delightfully muted allowing the shocks of ginger hair in his autobiographical tales to really stand out.
The strips range from list like one shots such as the one about ‘Potential Existential Threats’ and ’21st Century Methods of Divination’ to longer form stories such as St Helena (about the aforementioned sweary birds) and Colin Turnbull: A Tall Tale – the story about a lofty milkman for which he won the Cape prize. These humourous offerings are interspersed with several poignant autobiographical tales starring Matthew himself in which he lays himself bare, both psychologically and literally to great effect as he ponders on the state of the world and the bleakness of humanity. As well as delving deep inside his own insecurities he instils every strip with a bone dry sense of humour or a surreal aside, that manages to skewers his own angst and stop it from being too over wrought. Great examples of which include the story about weight loss where he enables himself to lose weight via cutting bits off his arm or the surreal story where he sheds his skin like a snake!
All of which makes Practical Implications into so much more than just another angst ridden small press collection. Dooley’s mix of depth and humour stops it from ever gettng too serious, because just around the corner is a strip about a boy with a message in a bottle that just says a rude word in it. With this volume featuring almost entirely new material, it is a fantastic look into the development of one of the most unique and enjoyable voices on the UK small press scene and we cannot wait to see more! (Fortunately there’s another strip in the issue below…)
Dirty Rotten comics #10
Dirty Rotten Comics has consistently been one of the best and most eclectic indie anthologies around, and to celebrate its 10th issue it has made the bold decision to introduce colour through out. However rather than just colour in it’s usual selection of quirky strips, editors Gary Clapp and Kirk Campbell have purposefully chosen artists for whom colour can help bring their work to life. This starts from the very first page with a stunning cover from Lucie Ebrey, which breaks the traditional DRC structure to create a stunning wrap around image that works as a stunning statement of intent for this bumper issue.
The strips inside feature a mix of familiar names, along with new exciting talents. For example there’s Rozi Hathaway whose aquatic tale makes the most of her water coloured style (and just wouldn’t work in black and white), while Josh Hick’s warms up for his new book from Good Comics with a slice of sci-fi written by Mikael Lopez. Then there’s new strips from the wonderful Tim Bird who continues to take a look at the mundanity of life, and another offering from the wonderful Matthew Dooley.
However what makes DRC such a great is the new talent it introduces. For us, this meant we discovered, James Wragg (whose psychedelic science fiction sizzles with colour); Alex Potts (whose tale of life in an office after hours makes us never want to work late) or Emily Rose Lambert whose heart-breaking Broughton Road tugged at the heart strings. And that’s not even mentioning Kevin Loftus’s hilairous Skinless Steve, Jay Levang’s The Bad Ass Mr Sir Boss and Scott Wrigg’s The Enterpeneur.
As with all anthologies there are some stories which are more successful than others, but there are so many styles on offer here that there is genuinely something for everyone. And with it’s emphasis on innovation and diversity it continues to be a book which we cannot recommend heartily enough. At an epic 92 pages, and now available on Amazon as both a print and digital title, there is no excuse not to be reading DRC. Whether you are new to the world of small press or a old hand, it is the perfect showcase for everything that is great about independent comics.