Stars & Gutters

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Stars and Gutters #1

Stars 'n' Gutters: crash, boom, bang
Stars & Gutters #1 © Gavin Burrows (script) & Steve Martin (art)
Stars & Gutters:
Editor: Gavin Burrows
Contributors #1: Gavin Burrows, Peter Poole, Stave Martin, Simon Brett, Gavin Ross
Contributors #3
: Gavin Burrows, Peter Poole, Ian Cairns, Adrian Stapleton, Jonathan Edwards.
An odd anthology of the three tales all linked by a theme of the communication of performers and audience beyond the physical...
The ghost of a singer refuses to accept death and strives to regain life to quash modern singers, druggy-influenced merging of the fan & performer's realities and a spell that brings James Dean to life through a poster. While the drug-frenzy of the second strip is the least structured of the three, the self resurrecting singer story is probably weakest as it's such an unusual premise for such a short strip that there isn't any real room given to provide any motivation for the singer's personality. It reads like a Golden Age strip.
The first strip, dealing with James Dean, is probably the strongest one but it's probably due to Steve Martin's wonderful clean-line artwork as a lot of the dialogue sounds as if it's a mix of quotes loosely strung together.
Altogether, worth a look (especially for Martin's art) but don't go out of your way or a copy.
Nigel Lowrey.

Stars and Gutters #2

Stars and Gutters #2 (c) Gavin Burrows (script) and Peter Poole (art)

Stars & Gutters #2 © Gavin Burrows (script) & Peter Poole (art)

This comic has done a terrible thing to me. It has turned me into someone who wonders how Arts Council money is distributed. This issue, distributed by Slab-o-Concrete and funded by the National Lottery via the Arts Council hardly seems the kind of flagship comic worthy of such an honour. Certainly the money has been put to good use in terms of the American comic format and glossy cover. In its choice of artists and writers the judgement is less certain.

This issue is split into three stories again. The first relates an adventure of spiritual discovery by a French painter in Spain on the outbreak of the Civil War. The second covers the decline and fall of a derivative and talentless rock star. The final story features the promise and failings of punk in a story of a schoolboy bully meeting his childhood victim.

Out of these only the punk story is really up to expectations with the story successfully hinting at a deeper moral and blending well with the vivid art style. In contrast the Godflesh; the rock story, is a complete failure. Hey the music industry consumes itself, rock stars tend to be self-loving arseholes who steal as much talent as they possess. If you needed to know this then watch Pop Idol instead because it is both more informative and, god forbid, more entertaining.

The just leaves The Other Side to make or break the book. The art is strong with an intensity of rich detail skilfully contained within the panel; challenging the eye but not over-powering it. Sadly the writing simply does not match up and merely offers tired and obvious symbolism with bland generic formula. Salvador Dali, Stormtroopers in stockings and the cross and the swastika turn up. There is no sense of time or place nor any real conviction in anything it portrays. The basic idea is that a visiting French painter is surprised by a Dali-like "spirit of Spain" figure who then wages a surrealist war on the Modernist school exposing the path of Progress to the spectre of Fascism before abandoning the painter to an irate peasant mob. It could have been a good idea but there seems to be no real effort to engage with the views of the inter-war year movements and instead we are presented with an obtuse fairy story that relies on cliché alone.

In the end Stars and Gutters seems to be one of those projects that needs grant money to survive. Not in commercial terms but to overcome its lack of ambition and ability.
Robert Rees

Stars & Gutters #1: 36 26x17cm pages32 Stars & Gutters #2:
26x17cm pages

  Recieved at ZUM! HQ:
no info
  1.50/$2.95 (+P+P?) each   Gavin Burrows, Armchair Comics, 34 Lincoln Street, Bighton, BN2 2UH  
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