With this weekend’s Thought Bubble Comic Festival turning into a purely digital affair, there have not been the raft of new books coming our way this month. However there have still been a few and so we take a look at some of them here:
Holly (Steven Ingram)
We first discovered Steven Ingram’s wonderfully meticulous work via his book Left And then via his subsequent short story series Murmur. His latest longer form story, is now getting a full release after a successful Kickstarter earlier in the year, and is another great example of his unique and nuanced style. Holly is based on a remote Scottish island and follows the titular character’s attempts to find a purpose while living in such a quiet location. It’s a really subtle and beautifully told character piece, that really manages to capture the melancholy and frustration of a youngster caught up on such an isolated place. (All of which feels even more significant in our current isolation based world). We see her trying to build relationships with her peers (who range from a local farm boy to the cool girl at school), as well as her relationship with her family, including an absent father. As with Steven’s other stories it’s a very slow burning but very carefully observed story and for those used to a book with a more immediate style, not a lot really happens in it. However, you feel like this is the point, as Ingram prefers to pause to take in the quiet moments rather than fill his story with clutter and noise. His use of a very strict grid helps to really emphasis the minutiae of Holly’s world and restrictiveness of it all, while the light blue duotone colour scheme gives it a kind of cool chill to it that really emphasises the remoteness of the location. While it may lack the bombast or obvious depth of other stories of this ilk, it has this endearing charm and very down to earth sense of realism to it, that is what we enjoy most about Steven’s work.
Harker: The Book Of Solomon
This new book from our good friends at Time Bomb Comics is a reprint of an early 00s comic which is getting a new lease of life in the ‘20s thanks to Time Bomb’s expertise in the world of crowdfunding. Roger Gibson and Vincent Danks’ crime procedural has a really fantastic old school feel to it, reminding us of classic detective dramas from the 70s and 80s like Colombo, Morse or Rebus. When a disembowelled corpse is found on the steps of a church, DCI Harker and his assistant DS Critchley look into the occult background, and the connection to the mysterious Book of Solomon. It’s a really fun and enjoyable read, that thrives on the dynamic between the two coppers – the cynic and the idealist. Like all great detective shows that is the core, and the mystery itself almost secondary. While the satanic shenanigans create a fun distraction and an interesting case for them to argue about it’s all about the character dynamics and this works well here. Artist Danks has a really fine and crisp, almost photo-realistic style to his work, which really help gives it a vintage TV feel. As well as making the landscapes look really impressive and realistic. He even goes so far as to use a few obvious life models in places, similar to Grayham Puttock in Red Rocket Comet. While Harker has had various incarnations over the years, this new version feels like a worthy new version for a new audience and is well worth checking out. It has been updated with a simple new colour scheme to bring it up-to-date and if we were being picky, we would say it is almost a bit too subtle for our liking – it feels a bit washed out in places and doesn’t really add that much to the overall package in our opinion. But fortunately it also doesn’t take anything away either. This is a really smart and engaging read that really makes the most of it’s cop show roots, and we can’t wait to see it resolve itself in part 2. With another volume of the original series waiting in the wings, and hopefully new content as well after that, this has the potential to be a great addition to the always dependable Time Bomb Comics roster!
Dreamscapes (WIP Comics)
This new book from Gabbie Scanlon is released by Joe Stone’s WIP Comics collective (see also Success and Failure). It’s a really lush looking tale of a near future VR cybercafe where customers can go off on journeys to wherever their hearts desires – or wherever the servers will let them. The story follows Meera and a particularly challenging group of patrons who she has to help out. With the VR concept, it reminded us a lot of Red Dwarf’s Better Than Life episodes, but Gabbie gives the thole thing a really grounded real world approach that makes it reads more like the misadventures of someone working in a present day coffee shop than a futuristic world. Her artwork is swirling and painterly, and has a loose expressiveness to it with gives the whole thing a really charming, light quality. It also gives it a very feminine feel for what is traditionally quite a masculine genre and concept. As such Dreamscapes feels really fresh, and while the story is relatively short and lightweight, this feels like a really confident debut from a creator we will definitely be keeping an eye on in the future.