Review: Magpie (Throwaway Press)

The fine line between comics and art is blurred even further by the fascinating work of Kathryn Briggs. This new collection, courtesy of Throwaway Press (publisher of Dirty Rotten Comics), brings together some of Kathryn’s previously published work in one fascinating package.

Publisher: Throwaway Press
Writer: Kathryn Briggs
Artist: Kathryn Briggs
Price: £8.99 from Throwaway Press Big Cartel Store

Magpie really is something to behold as Kathryn’s unique approach to storytelling sees her break down what makes a traditional comic page and turns each into a work of art as well as a narrative. She even pushes the boundaries of what comics can be produced on using different textures of paper including graph paper, calendars, and even maps, to give her books a genuinely unique angle. We often talk about work having a uniqueness to it, but rarely does that adjective mean as much as it does with Magpie. The very nature of the surfaces the stories are drawn on makes them a one off and then the stories themselves make them even more so.

They are an eclectic bunch, from personal reflections and family anecdotes to scenes from Shakespeare, each one is told in a different style of artwork that showcases what an exciting and diversely skilled artist Briggs is. From stylish pen and ink, through beautiful watercolours to multimedia and more, it is worth picking up just to see the variations on show on every page and it certainly rewards re-reading as you pick over every brush stroke.

Although the stories are definitely towards the artier and more contemplative end of the comics spectrum, they are presented in such a way that you can’t help but be drawn into them, as the unique art style makes you read more slowly and truly digest and appreciate every panel – not  simply skirt over them and move on to the next. As such it is not the easiest of reads for those who prefer their comics to be more in-your-face, but for those looking for that next break out star in small press then Kathryn could well be the one to watch.