|UNDER THE BED
Patrick Brown's drawings are scratchier than chickenpox. His pens
have caught Parkinson's Disease, conjuring up solid figures which
simultaneously shimmer like a primitive animated cartoon.
Story-wise, Under the Bed starts off with date talk of shared TV
memories, proceeds to a rather sweet sex scene, before departing
reality and diving into a whimsical fantasy/comedy ...which unfortunately
is where I lost interest.
As soon as creatures emerge from under the bed to whisk a disbelieving
couple off for a retread of the plot to Time Bandits, Brown's pencils
become less and less substantial and Under the Bed becomes mere
The result has all the consistency of candyfloss but, in the early
stages at least it melts in the mouth with a pleasurable buzz.
UNDER THE BED [36 A5 PAGES] 50p PATRICK BROWN, 30 WYNARD PARK, BELFAST,
THE UNPRONOUNCEABLE WORLD OF MADAM ZUNG
This comic follows the progression of a tennis ball in a twenty
five page lesson in cause and effect. It reminded me of the film
The Plank. In fact the whole book was more like a story-board proposal
for a film than a comic book. This is not necessarily a bad thing,
it did keep my attention and the sewn up, back to the start, ending
I had been expecting from about _ way through was most satisfyingly
The art is basic and sometimes I couldn't make out what was happening,
but generally it performed well. I did feel I was looking at something
done in the wrong media — this is crying out to be made into
a short film or animation because the comic lacked words, but had
a general sense of movement and story-telling which would be more
successful in those media.
THE UNPRONOUNCEABLE WORLD OF MADAM ZUNG [56 A4 PAGES, ONLY PRINTED
ON ONE SIDE, SIDE STAPLED] EXCHANGE FOR "COLOUR CLIMAX #150 9 (WITH
BEVERLY HILLS) — THE ORIGIONAL VERSION OF COURSE. OR £1,000,000
OR BLUE CLIMAX #45." PERSONALLY, I DON'T THINK YOU SHOULD ENGOUAGE
HIM... @ £2·50 SHOULD BE O.K. SERGIO PERCIBALLI, 3 EASTFIELD
GROVE, PETERBOROUGH, CAMBS, PE1 4BB.
MINDS EYE COMIX PRESENTS: #4
Sitting there on the cover sagging slightly, in an endearing kind
of a way, a little like he's not quite fully stuffed, with stitches
that would put Frankenstein to shame and wearing what looks like
a page-boy's cap, is a Panda. This is Vincent.
Robin Bougie is so enamoured with Vincent he's created a fantasy
life for his recently aquired friend. In the 'film star/alternative
rock singer/general all round superstar section' there may perhaps
be a little wish fulfilment, but for the most part Vincent does
what stuffed toys do best — he sits there; waiting for fate
and Robin to whisk him away form thrift store tedium to the dizzying
heights of staring in his own small press comic.
It's a long wait for Vincent. In the meantime he engages in some
misanthropic chunterings with his pal, a Humpty Dumpty named Benedict.
It's this small talk that enlivens proceedings making the whole
thing an entertaining read.
Robin's art is a little uncomfortable, fidgeting between big eyed
cartooning usually reserved for funny animal strips and more naturalistic
illustration. This is particularly evident in his self portrait
with bog-eyed features and a hairstyle reminiscent of an asylum
inmate making him look quite deranged. He seems to have a grip on
his senses though — creating a comic with a pleasant dollop
of charm without any sickly aftertaste.
When you've finished the comic, the letter's page is quite entertaining,
although Robin and some of his correspondents do seem to try too
hard to sound like wackey weirdos.
VINCENT -— MINDS EYE PRESENTS: #4 [20 14x11cm PAGES] $1 (+P+P?)
ROBIN BOUGIE, BOX 1653, CHEMAINUS, BC, V0R 1K0, CANADA.
A VIRTUAL CIRCLE #2
Disgruntled computer programmer uncovers dodgy goings on, finds
he's being tailed by shadowy men who are out to kill him. The newspaper
says he's already dead.
Maybe if creator Patrick Brown's art had a little more conviction
about it the reader grabbing potential would've been greater. As
it is the art looks rushed, with panels guillotined off page edges
and characters indistinguishable from one another; there's an overall
feeling of greyness.
To be fair a complex thriller plot, intercutting times and places
with virtual reality and computer programming, is difficult enough
for even the most proficient artist or writer to render successfully.
In a way it looks like Patrick got cold feet when he realised the
task he'd set himself. Imagine dreaming of Big Numbers but finding
out you can only count up to five.
On the plus side, the dialogue is convincing and Virtual Circle
could develop into an interesting story — the central character
finding he's been wiped off all computer records, he's become a
non-person; a virtual corpse. Now there's potential in those ideas.
It remains to be seen if Patrick's able to bring Virtual Circle
A VIRTUAL CIRCLE #2 [28 A5 PAGES] 50P PATRICK BROWN, 30 WYNARD PARK,
BELFAST, BT5 6NS.
WAIKIKI LUAU #3
Waikiki Luau is an anthology comic with a vaguely surfish theme.
This is the third, seven years in the making issue. The stories
involve many totems of alternative culture: Aliens, Elvis, Vietnam,
surfer dudes, beatniks and for all you 'foodies' a satay sauce.
In a way this can be a bit of a burden because these themes are
often used as some kind of short cut to cool, with not enough thought
going into fresh ideas. Having said this I did thoroughly enjoy
this comic but I had to accept I was not going to see inventive
or experimental humour.
My favourite story is Ride Your Horse, Cowboy in Git Dancing —
a ridiculous story with many snappy one-liners and a talking horse.
Another gem is the one page beatniks strip. The artwork is varied
in quality but always works in the context of the strips.
All in all Waikiki Luau gets a thumbs up. It's a good laugh, I'd
WAIKIKI LUAU #3 [36 A4 PAGES, 2 COLOUR COVER] £2·20 SIMON
MACKIE, 4 HILL COURT, LOWER STREET, HASLEMERE, SURREY, GU27 2BD.
Lorna Miller's excellent artwork, and her quirky brand of comics
story-telling has won over this reader. She has a fascinating approach
to combining ideas that don't seem to belong together. The first
story, Jane, is a surreal mutation of Red Riding Hood. It transplants
Tarzan's mate into a 'Commando' comic setting, where she marches
with a British 'Tommy' soldier who wounds himself in the foot when
he tries to shoot the Wolf (rendered with eyelashes and lipstick
in panel 2). Jane herself looks more like Wilma Flintstone, bones
in her hair and kitsch leopard skin outfit — a refugee from
an Exotica LP sleeve. They flee to a house in the snow, a lovely
drawing straight from an old-fashioned Christmas card, where the
Granny turns out to be 'Mad Doctor Florrie', and the story takes
a Hammer Horror turn when she recounts a ghastly amputation and
bandages the soldier's foot in a flowery bandage. The poor lad having
thus suffered a double symbolic castration, then finds himself further
emasculated when he ends up in a woman's nightie, re-enacting the
ending of Red Riding Hood as the wolf suddenly returns, now wearing
about 2 pounds of black mascara, and explicitly threatening to "bite
his knob off!". There's more sexual semiology here than in Angela
Carter, and it's a lot wittier too.
Take a Trip Around the World (a true life story of Lorna's?), is
an existential little gem; focusing on the boyfriend alone in the
flat after a lover's tiff, it shows him hypnotised by the TV set,
falling asleep, and farting; then struggling with a mysterious inner
turmoil as he tries unsuccessfully to fix a lightbulb. He winds
up stranded like a prisoner on a desert island, sitting forlorn
on the table with his nose streaming. His plight of depression and
inertia arouses our compassion. Equally fascinating is the image
of Elvis as a 'Fertility God' — ie: the Cerne Giant, (a figure
not unknown to me!) with a Gibson f-hole guitar replacing his knout,
an obvious reference to cock-rock macho posturing. But the facing
page to this shifts us back to children's playtime territory, with
a cut-out 'Dress the Doll' sequined suit and platforms — completely
undercutting the macho text by changing Elvis into a harmless plaything.
If the Bra fits also works on at least 2 levels. The girl tries
on a new bra while her partner waits outside the dressing room.
There's some witty observations of the behaviour of males in this
situation — the guy is acutely embarrassed and tries not to
look at the suddenly sexy-looking girls around him, while a passing
middle-age customer demonstrates his own sexual dysfunctionality
— he fails to buy a bra for his wife as he doesn't know her
size. Meanwhile, the girl in the dressing room is veering from neurotic
fussing over the shape of her breasts, to attempting mock-seductive
poses. In the end, both characters are defeated by the excessive
price of the bra. The story raises questions about how we deal with
our sexuality, balancing the fantasies of seduction and glossy 'Wonderbra'
images, with the practicalities of price and bra sizes. All that
in just 2 pages!
The best page for my money is Sweet Dreams Kitty Sweet Dreams. A
visual poem in five panels, with extra impact resulting from it
being printed black on orange. A mad Louis Wain style cat haunts
a moonlit sleeper, the folds in whose silk nightdress are visually
linked to the ectoplasmic bile that spews from the cat's mouth.
The way she holds the dead cat at the end reeks of a Black Magic
rite. Perhaps this figure is the Witch of the title? Perhaps, indeed,
all the women in the stories are Witches. The men portrayed have
all had spells cast over them; they're dealing with some sort of
obstacle or disability — be it a damaged foot, existential
dread, or (like Elvis) reduced to a mere plaything like a voodoo
doll. If so, this comic carries a strong feminist empowerment-of-women
message, showing ways of eliminating or minimising the 'threat'
of masculinity, through imagination. "There are not very many Women
Cartoonists..." ponders an oblivious male geek on the opening page.
"Maybe women just don't have a sense of humour", is his inept conclusion.
Well folks, Lorna Miller has the humour, and a lot more besides
— a deft skill for exiting combinations of ideas, a striking
drawing style and a real hard edge to her stories.
WITCH #2 [24 A4 PAGES] NO COVER PRICE — SEND @ £2. LORNA
MILLER, 64 QUEEN STREET (3RD FLOOR), GLASGOW.
WU WEI #1&2
The first ten pages, constituting the third chapter of a 400 page
story entitled Testament, consist of lots of mood shots, moving
very slowly through 3 events. No clue as to what it's all about
is discernable so I'll pass on to the next story, noting only that
this doesn't appear to be a good jumping-on point for Testament.
...no ghosts collages handwriting, typescript, pencilling and photos,
telling of a discovery of a secret side the storyteller never knew
his father had. This is well done — the use of found objects
forces onto the reader the flavour of that discovery, drawing you
into scraps of someone else's life that are pregnant with undiscoverable
Finally Tatters puts sketches together with responses to a question,
a la Duplex Planet.
I wish I could raise some enthusiasm for this comic. Creator Oscar
Stern is clearly a skilled and versatile artist — his methods
on each of these three sections are strikingly different and equally
assured — but I feel as though I've read an excellent minicomic
padded out with a dozen pages of filler. I think I'm probably being
unjust. Or maybe this really is not the place to start reading this
WU WEI [EACH 36 26x17cm PAGES, FULL COLOUR GLOSSY COVER] $2·50
(+ P+P?) EACH. OSCAR STERN, P.O.B. 1267, FDR STATION, NEW YORK,