Some interesting British comics you should read
by rick olivares
Whenever I go abroad, one of the shops I check out are the local comic book stores. I don’t go for American comics since they are readily available here in the Philippines. What I look at are the local publications. Thus far, I have comics from France, Italy, Thailand, Singapore, Hong Kong, Scotland, and England.
This second trip of mine to England, I went to four comic specialty shops — Gosh in London, Mega City in Camden, and Worlds Apart and Forbidden Planet in Liverpool.
Basically, in those countries where I picked up local comic books, I noted that there’s a dearth of superhero comics as they prefer adventure, real life, science fiction, history, or horror. In France, I asked a shop proprietor why European comics tends to shy away from the superhero milieu, he said that they do not do it as good as the Americas hence they concentrate on where they are good.
Here are the three titles I picked up and should be of interest to Filipino comic enthusiasts.
The Pirates of Pangaea (David Fickling Books)
Written by Daniel Hartwell and drawn by Neill Cameron
I went to my favorite comic book shop in London, Gosh Comics (1 Berwick Street, Soho) and they had this massive sticker of The Pirates of Pangaea on the front glass window. Even as a grown adult, how can you can you not be drawn to a visual that has dinosaurs and pirates? I picked up the trade paperback that collects the first four story arcs that first appeared in The Phoenix Weekly Story Comic, an anthology of different titles by different creators.
The Pirates of Pangaea tells the story and adventures of Sophie Delacourt who has been sent to the neewly discovered island of Pangaea to live with an uncle. The island, however, is teeming with pirates at war with Her Majesty’s Army for control of the island. It seems that people have learned to co-habit or even control the dinosaurs up to a certain degree. Sophie is kidnapped by the ruthless Captain Brookes but she escapes with the most unlikely of allies to complete her journey.
With the return of Jurassic Park to filmdom and the success of The Pirates of the Caribbean films, stretch your imagination further in this most unlikely mash up of genres. It’s no fluff piece as it is fraught with danger and death (and rightfully so when you have man-eating dinos and cutthroat pirates in every corner). Sophie is no Wendy Darling as she can fend for herself and you find yourself eager to follow her travails.
The storytelling is taut and engaging. Hartwell introduces us to a Pangaea that we want to see more of and know about. We also meet a lot of characters aside from Delacourt such as the cabin boy Kelsey, pirates Ten Gun Jones and Captain Ford and the Tyrannosaurus Rex Sophie names, Cornflower!
Cameron's art is expressive and a wonder. You have to love his facial expressions especially on Kelsey! Andseeing the massive wooden ships strapped to the backs of Sauropods… it’s majestic. The chemistry of the creative team is evident on every page that is pure wonder and joy.
Check this out if you know what’s good for you.
Vampire Free Style (Neptune Factory)
Written and drawn by Jenika Ioffreda
This is a spiritual cousin to the classic Goth comic, Gloomcookie.
Vampire Free Style tells the story of Padroncino, a young warlock who has yet to fully master witchcraft. Padroncino, uses his powers to search for a lost love. in the midst of his quest, picks up a stray black cat that doesn’t seem to be what it is. At the same time, a vampire with no recollection of what he truly is also plagued by a gaping hole in his memory. All he knows that he is searching for his lost love for the past 300 years.
Ioffreda, an Italian who has made England her home, has crafted an interesting love story. The search of both Padroncino and Edward the vampire will remind you of John Cusack’s character of Jonathan in the film Serendipity except it is Goth-style.
The Great Salt Lake (Gosh Comics)
Written and drawn by Matt Taylor
The Great Salt Lake is about a lone survivor from a ship that is burned a sea. He finds himself on a lifeboat propelled only by his quest to be reunited with his lost love. Battling the elements, loneliness, starvation, and perhaps even dementia, will he ever find his way back?
Of the 112 panels that make up this 28-page comic, only two panels have words. It’s mostly a silent comic and one can understand because who does the man talk to when he is alone out at sea?
The Great Salt Lake is powerful and gives you pause to reflect. And Taylor’s art has you mesmerized with every panel. His style is Americana yet with a dynamic feel to it. He is also currently doing the fantasy/crime comic, Wolf with Ales Kot for Image Comics.
In fact, I can say that if you enjoyed Gabriel Ba and Fabio Moon’s excellent Daytripper, you’ll love The Great Salt Lake that is a story of desolation and loneliness.
Other British comics we picked up and will soon feature:
Becoming Unbecoming by Una
Are You My Mother? by Alison Bechdel