The first book from Josh (Glorious Wrestling Alliance) Hicks’ new venture CPE Books, is Biggol, a fantastic documentary comic from his long time table mate Ioan Morris. Biggol tells the story of a fictitious fantasy TV program in the 1960s and reads like a TV documentary with talking heads, interviews and flashbacks. It’s steeped in a sense of 1960s kitsch and low budget silliness, not the high polish of today’s TV drama, and is a chance for Ioan to tell a series of meticulously crafted sketches about aspirational TV execs, struggling actors and obsessive fans.
It’s all done in the meticulous and analytical style we have seen in Ioan’s previous work like Best Imitation of Myself. His pages often use a rigid 6 panel structure, or rely on very strongly regimented layouts, and this goes really well with his very precise line work. It’s a wonderfully constructed set of character studies and Ioan builds the world of Biggol superbly. It has the kind of nostalgic charm of something like Garth Merenghi’s Dark Place, however it is very firmly rooted in the 1960s time period. As such there is a kind of innocence and naivety about the whole thing: from the female TV producer trying to make her name in the sexist world of male TV execs; to the ageing theatre actor looking for one last great hurrah on TV (at a time when this was definitely a step down). There is also a look at the early days of fandom with the Biggol fan club torn apart by infighting and arguing, but without it all happening online.
Biggol is a wonderfully uncynical read that revels in it’s own unique brand of quirky nostalgia and vintage eccentricity. This first issue also feels like it is only just scratching the surface of this wonderful world and so we hope this is the start of a long term ongoing series for Ioan. (In fact since we wrote this review issue #2 has been released!)