Set in five different corners of London (East, West, North, South and Central), Ramzee’s ‘LDN’ takes us on a journey through the London underground, stopping to tell five completely different narratives. Told in short story format with unique art-styles for each tale, Ramzee gives the reader a varied social commentary on what it’s really like to live in the big city.
Ramzee’s LDN (an abbreviation of London) gives us a glimpse into the lives of five different groups of people of all ages, ethnicities, and religions, who have completely different life experiences despite living in the same city of London. Cleverly divided into chapters by a London Underground map at the beginning, each story acts as a separate stop on our underground tour of London, pausing in the East, West, North, South and Central. To further diversify the separate experiences, author Ramzee uses different artists for each story, giving each of them distinct vibes. All aboard!
Sammy’s Mitzvah: Our first stop on our tour of the London underground begins in the North with Sammy’s Mitzvah. This is a short but heart-warming tale about a brother and sister duo (Sammy and Flick), who struggle with the fact that their recently deceased grandmother will be unable to be buried next to her husband, as she never fully converted to Judaism. The brother/sister dynamic ensures that the plot remains light-hearted and fun despite its serious topic discussion, and we loved Flick’s attitude and funny comments: ‘Jaqueline Wilson is my qween and Aragorn is my dream boyfriend’ (SAME!). Another aspect we adored was the explaining of Jewish rituals and traditions as we encountered them, which were really informative. Lizzie Houldsworth’s cartoony and cute artwork shone here, and we thought that the switch up in formatting between graphic novel and regular written novel in each chapter added something really different and made a fun addition. A strong start!
Traps: The next stop on our journey is Traps set in West London. Completely different in artistic style and storytelling from Sammy’s Mitzvah, Traps begins by imitating the conventions of a typical Greek tragedy, with the voices of the chorus foreshadowing a disaster (SUCH a fun framing device to use!). This convention is followed all the way through, but turns more Shakespearian, with a modern-day Romeo and Juliet meeting on the London bus and flirting via modern day slang. This is a tale of attraction, betrayal and twisty endings, and we loved the incorporation of poetry like haikus and different character perspectives which seem separate but end up connecting. The art was distinct here too (props to Ramzee and Sarjan Rei!), with an almost colour-blocky feel, with singular colours used based on perspective (reminiscent of Natasha Natarajan’s FML Comics). So far, our journey into London has been interesting…
Much like a genuine London tube ride, we are interrupted by a brief intermission making fun of Boris Johnson and his impact on this country, hilariously illustrated by Bridget Mayne. We love to see it. Onwards!
Generation Skint: Stop number three drops us off in the East and gives us an insight into the struggles of finding a job after graduating (especially if you’re trying to live somewhere as pricey as London!). From attempting to get a job as a comedian to becoming an erotic novelist, this story really focuses on the hard truths about life after graduating, and how difficult it is to get your dream job (as Ramzee states, it’s like a real-life Hunger Games between yourself and your fellow graduates!). The dynamic between our main character Ellie and her roommates, as a group of struggling 20-something year olds, is the shining focus here, as their different interactions, motivations and upbringings lead them to a deeper understanding of privilege. We also really enjoyed the frequent use of lists to further the story (it was almost like reading a Buzzfeed article!), as well as the vibrant art which often overlapped with some real-life pictures of London. Onto stop four!
Happy Together: Our halt into Central London is very brief but is by far our most sombre stop and packs the biggest emotional punch. Focusing on the breakdown of the relationship between two men, and one’s subsequent marriage to a woman, this story addresses important themes like homophobia and racism. Beautifully illustrated by Ilke Misurlioglu in lovely reds and greys, this one will make you shed a few tears. Back to the tube we go…
Mockingbird: We’ve reached our final stop on this tour of London with Mockingbird illustrated by Wei-Li Wonka and set in the South. This one follows the story of a woman who wants to stop ageing. She tries to reclaim her youth by attending parties and befriending teenagers, but it doesn’t turn out so well. This is a struggle everyone can relate to, especially during COVID, and is a poignant place to end our journey. The art is done in a ‘chibi’ almost anime-style, which really meshes well with the overall message of wanting to reclaim one’s youth.
And just like that, we’ve reached the end of our journey. Despite the fact that all of the stories and art styles were so varied, they worked incredibly well together as a whole, fitting together like jigsaw pieces to form one big, varied experience of the city of London. Well done to all involved!