A bit like the subject of this comic, you’ll probably already have an opinion on whether or not you’re going to enjoy this new release from SelfMadeHero. But don’t be completely swayed by that opinion. The Corbyn Comic Book is more than just a cosy love-in for the bearded socialist firebrand, it’s a clever collection of witty social commentary, that just happens to feature a jam making, allotment loving leader of the opposition as it’s hero!
Price: £4.99 from Amazon
Released as part of SelfMadeHero’s 10 year anniversary celebrations, The Corbyn Comic Book is a curious read, but also a pleasantly surprising one. Capitalising on the political mood post-election this is a a mix of sharp satire, political whimsy and good old fashioned silliness. It manages to avoid being a total leftie love in by poking fun at Jeremy every bit as much as the evil Tories (although they do end up as the villains more often than not) and it makes for a very readable anthology, featuring some top notch creators.
There’s a great mix of stories from three or four pagers, to full page illustrations and even short 3 panel strips and single images. They range in genre and style from Anna Trench’s opener Corbyn Street (which is a whimsical thought piece on the nature of modern politics) to more traditional political cartoons from heavyweights like Steve Bell, and slightly esoteric and quirky satires like Rebecca K Jones’ Seeing Red (about a Tory think tank trying to see like young people) or Miranda Meldrum’s Jez and Don (which along with Stephen Collins Pinkovision sees Jeremy meet Trump!)
There are also more ‘comic book’ style pieces like Chris Baker and J Francis Totti’s Leathal Corbyn III or Jonathan Stevenson & Luke Kemp James’ A Man Walk Home Alone at Night which opt for genre based stories casting Jez as a kick ass action hero and vampire hunter respectively and are two of the standouts of the whole book. They both use the tropes of the comic book genre to tell fun stories, and along with pages like Tom Blackwood’s Corbyn The Barbarian pin up, avoids it being too political or too serious without making it too gimmicky. (It could easily just be a series of genre pastiches which it manages to avoid, and those that do play with genre do it really well.)
Although Corbyn The Comic Book has a very obvious political bias there’s enough in there to still make it a good comic, whatever your views. The variety of work and calibre of contributors certainly helps this with stand outs like David Hine and Mark Stafford’s Uncle Jezzas Bedtime Stories (which has a particularly stunning and creepy final page) rubbing shoulders with more visually interesting pieces like Richard Dearing’s An Inspector Calls and Karrie Fransman’s infographic Corbyn The (Not So Very) Radical to mix things up and stop it feeling too samey and repetitive!
As with all anthologies some strips are better than others, and while it may be entirely subjective which ones you enjoy as a reader, there’s enough humour and pathos and originality to make it a worthwhile read. As the slogan goes, The Corbyn Comic Book is definitely a comic for the many and not the few, and by aiming a collection like this at non-comic readers (i.e. Labour voters) as well as leftie comics fans, it’s a great way to get more people reading comics and a real vote winner for SelfMadeHero!