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Alchemist #1&2Alchemist #1: Darryl Cunningham (script) & Chris Fraser (art)
Alchemist #1 © Darryl Cunningham (script) & Chris Fraser (art)

Alchemist #1
Editor: David Hobden
Contributors: Darryl Cunningham & Chris Fraser

Alchemist #2
Editor: David Hobden
Contributors: Peter Poole, Paul C Davies & Stan Martin


David Hobden in The British Sketchbook
Steve Martin in Stars & Gutters & Terrible Sunrise

Issue one features the distinctive art of Chris Fraser illustrating a story by Darryl Cunningham which is essentially a homage/parody of those cheapie Doug McClure movies of the 70's based on obscure Edgar Rice Burroughs tales, specifically At The Earth's Core. While capturing the cheesiness of the original pieces, this strip doesn't really offer much ...It's not particularly funny or exciting. You'll either love or loathe the art, and I think I fall into the latter category. While the strip isn't bad it's extremely lightweight and flimsy...spend five minutes reading it ...but don't shell out on it.
Issue two is an anthology with various creators contributing short stories. Probably the best is Paul C Davies' excellent adaptation of Shirley Jackson's classic short story The Lottery. Avoiding the use of speech bubbles, this retains a literary sensibility while still using pictures to progress the story.
Steve Martin provides a haunting tale of World War One, with the English troops in the trenches preparing for the inevitable push over the top into certain death. Largely silent apart from one flashback sequence, this short strip still packs a punch through its strong storytelling and sombre mood.
Pete Poole supplies the final two strips, which like the first two are engaging and pleasing to the eye. A vast improvement over the debut issue.
Nigel Lowrey

Alchemist #7&8Alchemist #7  (c) Peter Poole
Alchemist #7 © Peter Poole

Alchemist #7
Editor: David Hobden
Contributors: Peter Poole

Alchemist #8
Editor: David Hobden
Contributors: Peter Poole, John Miller, Andy Luke & Emmett Taylor


Peter Poole in Stars & Gutters
John Miller's cover to ZUM! #5

Alchemist is a nicely packaged regular publication which best of all is free. One of the most enjoyable aspects of it is never quite knowing what form the next issue will take & who will be in it. One moment it is an anthology, (#8 features Miller, Poole Luke & Taylor) next it's an issue dedicated to on creator (#7 is another issue devoted to Peter Poole).
I've been aware of Peter Poole's work from various anthologies in the past, but they didn't really make much of an impression until I saw his work collected together in these two issues (also see #5); it's wonderful. His art probably owes more to wood block illustrations than the usual comic suspects. Therefore he has a strong use of line, light and shade, and composition; all of which at times becomes most decorative. Poole's stories mix humour with a surreal/dreamlike quality, without becoming totally silly. He tackles a wide range of subjects ably moving from sci-fi (maybe a bit too Tharg's Future Shocks in places?) to more down to Earth stories. His high turnover of ideas helps keep it fresh. There is an underlying concern throughout the body of work with the environment & social issues but he, unlike many others, doesn't ram it down your throat. Another reoccurring theme is travelling & exploring, where going to the cinema or returning some Battenburg cake to the local shop becomes an adventure. The strips are witty, fun & interesting (despite my strong dislike for rhyming verse in comics). What more can you ask for?
I preferred Poole's material that takes up the first half of issue 8 to 7's offerings. Issue 8 sees more material from Jon Miller that covers much of the usual subject matter; Cider, Grateful Dead records, old comics & 'skool'. There is something slightly different in a supernatural Brass Monkeys written by A J Wilson. Finally, Andy Luke & Emmet Taylor's Jordie Skalor Waspkiller is a tongue in cheek take on The Punisher's origin in a B Movie style. Thought in the first place that it was funny but lost interest a bit after that, possibly due to the uninspired art.
All the issues of Alchemist are highly recommended, with editor David Hobden doing an admirable job keeping the whole thing going.
Reuben Willmott
Alchemist#1: 16 A4 pages, colour stock cover
Alchemist#2: 24 A4 pages, colour stock cover
Alchemist#7&8: 32 each A4 pages, colour stock cover
Free with P&P from:
David Hobden,
Wizard Prang Productions, 46 Canning Rd, Walthamstow, London, E17 6LT.
Received at ZUM! HQ:
no details
Review Posted:
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