Our latest spotlight on the world of small press comics features: A Projection, a new slice of interesting avant garde comics from Avery Hill; Samuel London’s quirky and quant debut Milford Green; and 10 page freebie comic The Train Terminates Here that is anything but cheap and cheerful!
The latest from Avery Hill is back to the kind of interesting and almost avant grade comics we saw from them last year with books like Ghosts Etc. and Goatherded. Seek an Hui’s work is nominally about a young girl who goes to work as a photographer come nanny for a very well to do family and it looks at her relationship with the kids and the mother as well as her role in documenting the family. In a way it has a quite old fashioned period feel to it with the idea of an outsider joining a dysfunctional family unit. However the presentation is anything but old fashioned and is one of the most original and ambitious way of telling stories with sequential art that we have seen in some time. The artwork mixes simple but highly stylised line work characters, with ink wash backgrounds and a spiky cut and paste collage effect that sees parts of the story overlap each other and bust out of the page. The story is panel-less and so pages feel more like self contained pieces of art rather than parts of the same narrative. The lettering also doesn’t conform to any traditional rules or styles and mix speech bubbles with thought bubble and notes left on the page. All of which makes for an incredibly beautiful and completely unique reading experience, but one which not always easy to take in. It took several reads to truly get the story and even then some of the subtleties are lost. It’s almost too clever for its own good as it has created something so unlike anything else it has moved beyond what it was in the first place. So if you like being challenged by what makes a comic A Projection is well worth a shout.
Samuel London’s debut comic is a smart and quirky piece of Victorian sci-fi that we discovered while it was being funded on Kickstarter back in the Spring. The Milford Green is the quaint English village that is the setting and is the home to: Alfie, a geeky inventor with his head in the clouds; Mary, Alfie’s unrequited love who has a bullying boyfriend; and Mr Wells a local author with a penchant for tales of outer space. Their world is turned upside down when an alien space craft lands in the village and Alfie is tasked with saving a priceless alien artefact from a pursuing alien horde. The plot for Milford Green is as quaint as it’s setting and it has a real simple charm to the story telling. The story feels quintessentially English and the characters are very restrained in their actions. The story itself is nothing overly fancy or complex, and reminded us a bit of a watered down version of Rok of The Reds at times, but it has a real charm to it thanks to the artwork of Mikael Hankonen. He gives it a Manga-esque sheen reminiscent of Sam Webster Unfamiliar Skies along with a very pastel colour palette which gives the whole thing a fresh and idyllic quality to it. The digital colours sing, especially on the outer space related scenes and the whole thing has a very slick, albeit quaint, look and feel to it. Our only issue with the book is that it lacks any real depth. There are attempts to bring this in with some darker elements later in the plot, but they feel forced and not in keeping with the style of story which London sets up in the opening quarter. With an open ending leaving the door open for more stories, this is a solid debut from London and one which could develop nicely with time.
The Train Terminates Here
When two apparent strangers meet on a train, it soon transpires they aren’t as unfamiliar with each other as you might seem. One is a terrorist holding a bag full of explosives while the other is a time travelling agent sent to stop him. As they reveal the intricacies of the how’s and why’s of the connection it is intercut with a series of action packed cut scenes involving a hyper intelligent child assassin and a giant rocket launching mech. Writer Folarin Akinmade has crafted a complex and engaging story which is told in an interesting and original manner. It has that simmering tension of the diner scene in Heat and thanks to a density of dialogue it packs a lot into its brief 10 page running order. Although it can feel a bit convoluted and confusing in places. Fortunately it looks fantastic enough that you want to reread it in order to get the most out of the story. Artist Aaron Edzerza has a really slick angular style reminiscent of Rob Guillory on Chew and Farmhand, which makes the most of the more sci-fi pages – especially Abi’s explosive debut! – but he also doesn’t cut things short on the talking head pages. With a final twist that turns things on its head, it make for a really interesting read and one that would be really interesting to see it expanded out into a larger story and world.