Comics and music might seem like strange bedfellows but they’ve been hanging out together for decades, from The Archies in the sixties to more recent fare like Ed Piskor’s Hip Hop Family Tree. Now David Gedge from indie legends The Wedding Present has joined the fray with the first volume of his autobiography Go Out and Get ‘Em Boy. Does it Make Me Smile or is it a case of Anyone Can Make a Mistake?
Publisher: Scopitones/Raw Shark
Writer: David Gedge (with Terry De Castro and Jessica McMillan)
Artist: Lee Thacker
Price: £20 from the Scopitones Store
The book opens with Gedge talking to his girlfriend Jessica and bandmate Terry (co-writers McMillan and De Castro) about his plans for a story about his life, suggesting “Why don’t we do the whole thing as a comic?”. It’s typical of the streak of humour and winks to the audience running through the book. It’s a (mostly) chronological amble through the life and times of David Gedge, focusing as much on fond memories of childhood holidays, schoolboy crushes and Grandma’s Cheese Gravy as it does on life on the road. It’s not White Line Fever by Lemmy or The Dirt by Motley Crue but that’s where its charm lies.
The conceit of a chat between partner and bandmate driving the narrative works well, leading to a warm conversational tone that draws the reader into their circle. Gedge’s prose is honest and he comes across as a likeable oddball, the only boy in his class who looked forward to Maths class, loved cricket, played Dungeons and Dragons and thought that “Eurovision is cool!”. Autobiographical comics are nothing new but where as the works of Crumb, Pekar and Spiegelman can come with a side serving of bile and despair (yum!) Gedge’s memoir is a warmer affair. His recounting of the circumstances surrounding how his parent met and became a couple isn’t a million miles away from Raymond Briggs’ Ethel and Earnest and the overall tone of the book put me in mind of Phil Elliott’s The Suttons.
Lee Thacker’s illustrations perfectly suit Gedge’s adventures in Granadaland and beyond, his style, somewhere between the cartoonish and realistic suggesting a sort of northern Love and Rockets (Love and Whippets?). The story takes in a lot of familiar faces, from Joy Division to John Peel. It also reveals Gedge’s love of comics, not a great surprise when you look at his back catalogue of song titles (Dan Dare, Metal Men, Bizzaro, Catwoman…). In one memorable moment, he tries to charm Jessica with the immortal line “Face it Tiger, you just hit the Jackpot!” From the look on her face she doesn’t seem too impressed.
There’s a lot in this book that resonates with me such as seeing the Fall live at a formative age, devouring Marvel Comics as a child, taping songs off John Peel and reading the NME in the common room so I’m probably the target audience for Go Out and Get ‘Em Boy. Even if you’ve never heard of or listened to The Wedding Present there’s plenty to enjoy here in a story that’s funny and poignant in equal measure and certainly worth investigating.