Ahead of this weekend’s Thought Bubble Comic Festival we check out 3 fantastic small press comics you can pick up:
This gloriously weird team up between two of our favourite small press creators – Joe Stone (WIP Comics) and Matthew Dooley (Flake) is based on the idea split EPs from the music world. It’s half a comic by each, based around the common theme of ‘Split’. Dooley’s half is his usual mix of sardonic surrealism. From a sketch about a man splitting and arguing with himself, through to a series of skits about a centaur and Heracles in the modern day. The characters all look like Dooley, which makes it all even weirder and these stories are divided up by visual jokes about different types of centaur (you have to see it to truly get it!!). Meanwhile Stone’s section features his own equally clever mix of style that we have seen in WIP Comics and Stutter. The opener is about a bunch of dividing cells, while the second half sees a split level story with the page divided in two and one half sees a couple argue about their relationship and one about a chef discovering the best banana split. As with Joes work in the excellent Neurotic Fiction it has a smart split colour scheme and is another brilliant example of Joe’s inventive brand of comics. Seeing as this is two of our fave creators expectations were high, and although they perhaps feel a bit lightweight compared to some of their best work (that is a very lofty bar to clear!), it is still a really fun book and a fantastic showcase of both these wonderfully inventive creators.
Matthew Dooley will be at Table 50A in Redshirt Hall and Joe Stone will be at Table 155 in Redshirt Hall
Charlie Don’t Swim
This autobiographical book from writer CJ Barrett and artist Toria McCallum is one of those books which reminds you what a wonderful force for good small press comics can be. It is an autobiographical tale from CJ about how he comes to terms with his body after major surgery. As a result of suffering from Ulcerative Colitis he ends up with a stoma bag and this stops him from doing the thing he loves most – swim. Charlie Don’t Swim looks at the subject of stoma bags in a really positive and informative way. It is educational, but also emotive and entertaining. The book begins with explaining CJ’s illness, before looking at how the surgery affected his confidence and his issues with his body. It is very open and honest about the situation, but manages to tell an engaging and simple story without feeling forced or preachy – it just comes across as a very real story about someone dealing with a problem and explaining how and why they managed to overcome it. It’s a short and snappy read which means it never over stays its welcome, and thanks to some fun cartoonish artwork from McCallum and a lightness of touch with the writing, it never becomes too serious, even when tackling serious subjects. A really uplifting and positive read.
You’ll find CJ and Toria at Table 7A in the Bubbleboy Hall
Hocus Pocus #4
A sad inevitability of small press comics is that by the time they reach issue 3 or 4 there is usually a drop in quality. This is often be down to real world constraints such as time or money, but also the finite amount of creative mojo that can power a comic along. Fortunately one of the exceptions to this rule is the wonderful Hocus Pocus from Jordan Collver, Rik Worth and Dr Richard Wiseman. This mix of supernatural tales, urban legend and genuinely mind bending trickery is one of the most inventive and consistently high quality small press comics out there at the moment. Four issues in we are as excited and enthralled by the this new issue about Prophecy as we were about the first issue. Writer Worth works with Wiseman to cherry pick stories which are based on true character from the world of the supernatural (in this case prophecy) and weaves them in with quirky comic strips about Wiseman himself and also genuine mind bending puzzles and tricks (Wiseman has worked with Derren Brown in the past and you can learn some of this secrets here!). All of this is brought to life some superb art from Jordan Collver (and colours from Owen Watts) who brings detail and personality galore to every page and panel. It’s free to download from the Hocus Pocus website, but this is a book you really need to see in print to enjoy in all its wonder. With a fifth and final issue on its way next year, this is already a must-read series and if they collect the 5 issues into one volume it will be an essential purchase as well.
Be sure to stop by Table 60 in ComiXology Hall and pick up all four issues!
Hocus Pocus #4