This must be about as small press as small press gets! If Ros was
to go any further she'd be potato-printing her zines onto tree-bark
using her own waste products as paints. As it is, it's copied in
some bizarre hue of faint grey-brown, like it's been in a junk shop
window since 1977.
Content divides into; i) short anecdotal strips more prone to
listing things like 'embarrassing errors' or 'cool band things'
than to string together stories, and ii) bizarre face-popping 'inky
pics' which look like she drew them in mud with three-foot sticks
in her feet and look completely cool. (There's also some pages of
zine and indie record reviews the least interesting part for
me. Indie bands. Pyew!)
Ros' low-fi drawings challenges Ralph Kidson in the simplicity
stakes. When she has to draw a shop she sketches in a grey box and
writes over it "can I be arsed to do an interesting show window
bollock thing...nope..."! But she always manages to express what
she wants, and it becomes the perfect accompaniment to her
diary-entry style. When I say this sort of stuff is miles better
than Liefield et al everyone thinks I'm taking the piss, but
actually I mean it quite seriously.
My only complaint would be when the text takes over too much,
forcing the drawing into repetitive self-portraits running down the
panel edge. Show not tell, dear!
"Embrace your inner geek!" Ros exhorts us. "Love it! Then you can
be just like me!" Sounds good to me.
GARBLES #10 [18 A5 PAGES] 2x1st CLASS STAMPS. ROS GARBLES,
c/o 5 NEW HOUSE CLOSE, CANTERBURY, KENT, CT4 7BQ.
Good things about Girlfrenzy: A truly beautiful strip about
the death of her sister by Christina Lamb. The way Erica
Smith is willing to spend pages (and indeed end every article)
saying, "Buy this! Send off for this! This is good
too! You have to read this!" like a kid in a rather large
Entertaining interviews with Annie Lawson, Cool
Cheese and Jeremy Dennis (who is touched by the hand of
Klimt, and is therefore a genius).
Erica's detailed article on why she doesn't want to get
Anne Marie's one on what happened when she did.
Maaike's Little Diary (I'd love to see a whole book of her
Tristam muffy widdly woo puppy.
Roberta Gregory's cringingly true Talking to Mum.
Bad things about Girlfrenzy: The (slight) of exclusionism
and preaching to the converted.
The letter writer who says, "Everyone should have the right to
hate men." Grow up, wake up, go to the Life Shop and get one.
Sarit's strip How I Got Caroline Pregnant. I have a real
problem with artificial insemination for lesbian couples (and yes,
I appreciate all the rationales, but it's an emotional response,
not a logical one, okay?). And Sarit & Caroline come
across as a pair of selfish, immature, emotional cowards who love
themselves far too much to be able to love a child.
Good things about girls: Everything.
Bad things about girls: Everything.
GIRLFRENZY #6 [36 A4 PAGES, GLOSSY 2 COLOUR COVER]
£1·80. GIRLFRENZY, P.O. BOX 148, HOVE, E.SUSSEX, BN3
GOT TO LIVE THEIR LIFE
First appeared in Metcalfe's anthology My Life Story* and
Metcalfe seems obsessed with the detail of everyday lives that are
suffused with melancholy and scarred by disaster. For the greater
part his temptation for overstatement makes for melodrama
immersing yourself in his comics can give you the feeling of living
in Brookside Close.
This comic starts with a bit of depressed adolescent angst. This
immediately sets you against the character in question
whingeing selfish little sod! Who then takes his mewling to the
ultimate conclusion; topping himself. First punch ouch!
Metcalfe then details the aftermath, focusing on the suicides' best
mate (who finds the body), which for the most part he does this
pretty well. The best bits are when he forsakes emotional thrashing
about for those vignettes that add up to make a life; not
constantly punching his story out, but relating touching human
moments. I wish Dave would vary his stories more this way
holding back the punches so they create more impact.
Paul Barlow illustrates proceedings. His work seems at it's
strongest when in the 'kitchen sink'. He portrays the mundanity of
the everyday with a very eye-pleasing semi-realistic cartoony style
playing it with enough invention (not graphic pyrotechnics) to
maintain the interest. This being earlier work by Barlow there's
also a refreshing lack of the ostentation as he concentrates on
pinning down the story. This pinning down is a little shaky in
parts though. There's a claustrophobia in areas where he tries to
cram too many panels on the page, and also the occasional slip of
emphasis, which also might be down to being unused to pacing.
It's a fallible comic, but none the worse, and maybe even the
better for it.
GOT TO LIVE THEIR LIFE #1 [28 A5 PAGES] £1 (+P+P?) DAVE
METCALFE, new bradford address.*See review ZUM!#9
GUEST LIST GIRLS
Guest List Girls is a snazzily produced mini-comic about
clubs, drugs and the many 'blags' the pony tailed groovers of the
title use to trick their way in buck shee.
I'm not the individual best qualified to comment on the
authenticity of the youthful goings-on depicted in this jolly
little booklet. I'd rather spend an evening at home supping tea and
listening to a Mungo Jerry L.P. than venture into a modern
nightclub to find out for myself. So I'll take writer/artist Cool
Cheese's word for it.
The comic is a vision in pink & yellow and features artwork
oddly reminicent of Mr Benn by David McKee (I think it's the
profusion of flattened perspectives and checked borders that does
it). All the characters have huge heads and and tiny bodies for
that fish-eye lens look. The story is really a collection of
fragmentary episodes and affectionetly drawn clubber stereotypes,
told with an unpretentious exhuberence that makes entertaining
I always find clubs uncomfortable and lonely places where paying
customers are treated like cattle by greedy proprieters and
subjected to an awful racket by rotten D.J.s... But the
world of the Guest List Girls is not like that at all...
Everyone has cheesy-grins bulging eyes and fun,fun,fun!
GUEST LIST GIRLS [oops no comic details] £
L.HOLCROFT, c/o GIRLFRENZY, PO BOX 148, HOVE,
E.SUSSEX, BN3 3DQ.
3 ISSUE SERIES
This unassuming pastel covered comic from Saskatoon Canada is a
deceptive little object. Behind the simple occasionally crude art
lies a story armed like an intruder with a baseball bat. And it
connects ...painfully, not least because the story it's recounting
Part one gives us background via newspaper clippings teen-crime;
Dwane, 15, has a ·357 Magnum. His drug buddies have
semi-automatics and an AK 47. Andre gave up drug dealing, "It was
too dangerous" and took up mugging instead. He's 12.
A warning shot for what's ahead.
I thought I might have to get armoured up against moral outrage of
hyperbole but thankfully writer/artist Robin Bougie keeps a cool
even keel. It's a horror story told in flashback the place
where nightmares live. Teen love, two girls, one driven crazy by
jealousy kills the girl she thinks she's losing her lover to,
roping in 2 friends to help. The killing only comes after
I have to say I was grateful that Robin's art didn't quite match
his realistic dialogue or it could've been unbearable.
In a sense the newspaper clippings about kids toting guns to
protect and survive is misleading, Heart Burning as its title
suggests is about a crime of passion as much as it's about abused
lives. Violence, however, may well be the all consuming passion for
an abused person.
If you like a hit of dirty realism get hold of Heart Burning But
don't just buy Chapter 1, get all 3, read and try to make yourself
believe that Robin Bougie was lying and he made the whole thing
HEART BURNING [#1 20, #2&3 16 22x14cm PAGES, COLOUR STOCK
COVER] $3·50 FOR THE SET (+P+P?). ROBIN BOUGIE, MINDS EYE
COMICS, 525 EAST 18TH AVE, VANCOUVER, B.C., V5V-1G2, CANADA.
HILLY ROSE #s 1,2 &3
I think my main objection to this comic is that it's creator
(B.C.Boyer) prostitutes it too deeply in an attempt to appeal the
widest audience possible forgetting to actually inject any life
I'm not heavily steeped in the history of comics but I can see the
zeitgeist waves this guy's trying to surf. A dash of this, a dash
of that and voila; it's a sure fire winner ...ah... Not exactly.
Let's start with the eponymous central character: remarkable
resemblance to Betty Page, her cute sidekick a
Bone refugee, her father/employer (she's a cub reporter,
he's the newspaper editor; even this is sickeningly familiar)
wasn't he in The Spirit?, main baddy Sidney The Evil
Incarnate Guy a hop and skip from Image Comics, and
that curious alien anthropomorph (who is the most original by
virtue of mixing more that one influence into a singularity)
Cerebus as Dirk Bogart if drawn by the bloke who does The
Max... You get the picture, yes?
Yes, the art, page layout, and panel to panel delivery of the
comic is very accomplished and slick, but the story moves at a
snails pace. The character setting and exposition is played so hard
there's scant room for narrative. The reiteration leaves you
wondering if it's aimed at 5-year-olds! Perhaps this might be due
to the original release scheduling of the comic, but reading these
3 issues in one lump has a suffocating affect; the amount of
duplication in #2 leaves #1's paltry narrative drive so redundant
you'd expect there to be years, not months between issues.
B.C.Boyer was once an industry professional as we so fondly need
reminded in each issue of Hilly Rose; he worked on The
Masked Man for Eclipse Monthly. He obviously loves the medium
or he wouldn't have taken the time to create what he has. He surely
hasn't turned to self publishing in the hope that his comic would
be an unbridled success and garner the, oh so rare payola premier
leaguers like Image Comics, Bone and Cerebus. Such
things are anomalies that are formed by origionality, force of
presence, persistence and a good dose of luck.
Boyer may have broken the shackles of mainstream publishing
it's just a shame he hasn't leapt away from it's safe lame-brained
mind-set and dared a bit of your actual creativity.
HILLY ROSE [EACH 36 26x17cm PAGES, GLOSSY FULL COLOUR COVER]
$2·95 EACH, 6 ISSUE SUBSCRIPTION $18, 12 ISSUE SUBSCRIPTION
$36, + $1·50 P+P/COMIC. PAPERBACK VOL. 1 (ISSUES 1 TO 5)
$12·95 (+P+P?). ASTRO COMICS, 4195 CHINO HILLS PARKWAY,
SUITE 329, CHINO HILLS, CA 91709, USA.
HUNGRY HEARTS #2
The product of a co-production between Pretend Family
Productions and The London Cartoon Centre, Hungry
Hearts is a curious anthology of comic strips concerned with
romance and relationships (mostly failed).
There are a few familiar names here an articulate, if
slight, one-pager from Paul Grist, a Zippy Couriers story
from Hilary Robinson and Graham Higgins which, 'hearts and flowers'
plot apart, would not look out of place in 2000AD*.
Other stories, however, suffer from an irritating whimsy which, at
worst, in K Grosvenor and A Dragovic's Once Upon a Time
seems dangerous the story of a possibly battered woman who
appears to be seeking escape in fairy tale wish fulfilment invokes,
but does not really address the issue of abuse.
Luella Jane Wright's Kiss Me on the Astral Plane** is as
hippy-dippy as the title suggests, but her's are the sparkiest
pencils in the anthology.
Next to these, the matter of fact sexual directness of the humour
strips seems incongruous.
Hungry Hearts then is competent, vaguely amusing, but
ultimately unremarkable. More hungry minds than hearts next time,
HUNGRY HEARTS [32 26x17cm PAGES, HAND TIPPED CARD STOCK COVER]
£1·50 (+P+P?) MONEY ORDERS PAYABLE TO D.C.MARTIN.
HOWARD STANGEROOM, PRETEND FAMILY PRODUCTIONS, 168 YELVERTON RD,
LONDON, SW11 3SP.
*Zippy Couriers originally appeared in 2000AD if my memory serves
me correctly? Hillary had a dispute about creator ownership with
2000AD/Fleetway (under their 'work for hire' basis they tried to
claim copyright to Hillary's creations) which she won, therefore
probably (I don't follow Fleetway now Egmont? comics
any more) excluding herself employment from the UK's biggest
indigenous comics company. Pyrrhic, eh?
**For more L.J.W. see Mitten Brain #1&2 reviewed in ZUM!s
INNER CITY PAGAN #4
In the last issue Lee took a much deserved holiday in Dublin, and
a cool bunch of groovy fun she had too. This time she got more
adventurous and beetled off to Prague, full of expectant joy, but
sadly to be met with a catalogue of disasters. Once again in diary
form with accompanying thumbnails of her surroundings and her
combatants, you're right along with her, suffering every theft,
insult and indignity. Poor lamb, she had such high hopes of the
Elsewhere you can find some more 'traditional' Kennedy strips,
spouting off venomously about wage slavery and movingly walking us
through the trauma of her abortion, all in the witty, honest
self-deprecating style you come to associate with the delightful
Star of the show, as always, is Wotan, the marvellously cynical
pusscat, acting as the deflating foil to the artist's slopes into
self-indulgence. Woo! A self regulating comic!
A bit steep at £3·50, but lovingly put together, and
always worth the effort.
INNER CITY PAGAN [84 A5 PAGES, COLOUR CARD STOCK COVER, PERFECT
BOUND] £3·50 $6·50 (U.S.) $9 (CAN/AUS) 35_.
SLAB-O-CONCRETE, P.O. BOX 148, HOVE, BN3 3DQ.
INSPECTOR TRAP: THE MADDENING
Don't ask me why, but I was expecting this to be a Sweeney
Boys-style* parody of Plod TV, but it's much better than
Following a violent incident with a local 'care in the community'
refugee, concerned about a shower of madness coming from the sky,
the eponymous rozzer discovers that the level of mental disturbance
in the area is rising to an alarming level. Feelings of self doubt
and dread about the future affect everyone, culminating in a
psychic friend of Trap revealing that nothing is 'visible' after 10
o'clock that evening.
That night the rain falls, bringing with it insanity and the key
to unlock everybody's dark side, including Trap's. "Everyone
scratches their itches. What they want, they get." Especially
affected is a group of the homeless, who have nowhere to shelter
from the downpour. As inhibitions go out the window, they take
violent revenge on a society which has driven them into an
While Nigel is a very capable cartoonist, he is much more gifted
as a writer than illustrator, and tailors his material very well to
play to his strengths. His story is very effectively structured and
paced, building up an inexorable air of unease and foreboding long
before the rain actually appears. He also provides a fairly
reasonable explanation for it all. The idea of the horror
constantly lurking beneath the veneer of modern urban life isn't a
particularly new theme, but here it's handled very well, with a
recognisable world on the edge of an abyss. Top stuff.
INSPECTOR TRAP: THE MADDENING RAIN [44 A5 PAGES] £1 + 2x2nd
CLASS STAMPS + A5 SAE. NIGEL AUCHTERLOUNIE, BASEMENT FLAT, 69A
SACKVILLE RD, HOVE, BN3 3WE. Also see Bunny Girl and Pig Boy. *See
Sweeney Boys review in ZUM!#9