Double Woodwork © John Bagnall
John Bagnal seem to occupy a forgotten country
of Britain before Thatcherism; an old world of flares & spotty adolescent
school kids.While this may constitute a dose of nostalgia on his part, this
certainly isn't an example of foolish self indulgence - the comic exudes
a warmth & charm that is hard to match. It is also 'way cool' (or whatever
the present hip equivalent expression might be these days).
The 'meatiest' part of the comic is not actually a comics piece, but rather
text & illustration - detailing in between days (betwixt the end of
school exams & the start of proper holiday) of an obviously geeky young
lad. These diary entries have such verisimilitude that I'm sure they must
be based on personal experience. Although I would like to point out that
I personally never got dry factual books from the library to study in my
own time, nor posed like a superhero as photo reference for comic book creation,
this all has an eerily familiar tone.
Other item in the comic, such as Disappearing Phrases & Men
Over 60 Whistling, are purely observational , rather than narrative
pieces. They are wonderfully drawn & hark to times past or lives lived;
there's an empathy with the subjects that drags you into the drawings and
seems to weave a further layer of richness than the initial illustration
might seem to portray. I do wonder whether this is common 'background' on
my part imprinting further detail into the pictures & subjects; some
far distant youth in me visiting old scenery... & I then find myself
speculating what a games console fed callow youth of today might make of
it all - but then I don't believe such a person would have any judgment
on comics at all.
Industrial Estate is absent of people entirely - just views of industrial
landscapes - there's no attempt at 'banter' - to engage an audience/reader
in any way. These are no prefab industrial warehouses of the anonymous 'light
industrial land' that cluster around motorway junctions; these are brick
buildings - aging industrial structures. The lack of people just adds to
the loneliness. This is just a single page, but it's my favourite in the
Two up - Two down is the sort of work for which John is perhaps better
known. It features an incorrigible youth questioning characters from the
neighborhood. It's a more 'traditional comic' presentation with John's keen
ear for language roping in a lovely bit of dry humorous dialogue. Even here
though, he does not rest with a page of 4 tiers of 4 panels - he skews it
all slightly to make the page just that little bit more visually interesting.
John's cartooning is as sharp as ever in this book. The themes he is exploring,
and the way that he is approaching the process of creating comics shows
a playful mind at work. My main gripe with this comic would be that there
is not enough. Can we have some more please, Mr Bagnall?
| Double Woodwork:
16 A5 pages, full colour cover (inkjet?).
|Price: £1.50 / $3.00 (+P+P?)
John Bagnall, 4 Belgravia House, Gilesgate Moor, Durham, DH1 1DY.
|Received at ZUM! HQ: