Comics Anonymous

SOLIPSISTIC POP #4 by Linsay @softlyspokenlas

I am ashamedly late to the Solipsistic Pop party. That’s why prior to writing this review I forced  myself to stand in the corner in silence for 45 minutes, facing the wall. I’m not very zen so that was torture. Luckily, to get myself psychologically back on track I need only delve into this ultra stunning labour of love and bask its sweet glow.

Solipsistic Pop has been hailed as one of Britain’s best anthology comics. I picked up my copy at Thought Bubble which came complete with a lovely folder, three gorgeous postcards, super twee badge and a dust jacket overflowing with resplendent micro detail. phew. All that before I even get to the comic. Solipsistic Pop 4 carries the theme of ‘Maps’ and features contributions from 26 different creators from all over the UK. There are several highlights and no filler. In fact so exceptional is this, an attempt should at least be made to discuss each contribution.

‘The A to Z of Mrs P’ by Stephen Collins jumps in to bridge the gap between visually delightful dust jackets and independent sequential art. Something as mundane and everyday a subject as ‘Maps’ might not conjure up much in most imaginations but for Collins the scale envisioned has been so grand as to allow him to chart the life, death and magic in between of Mrs Phyllis Pearsall, inventor of the London A to Z. This piece is dense and complex but wonderfully interesting.

All of this he does through the use of 48 squares, themselves no bigger than a postage stamp. Its really a very beautiful little comic that immediately sets the reader up to thinking and wondering about the role of Maps in our lives, in both a linear and non linear sense. The next contribution, Atoll by Thought Bubble 2011 Artist in Residence, Kristyna Baczynski reminds us to stop acting silly and take a less ‘up our own arse’ view of comics. Baczynski gives us an amusingly bleak glimpse at a shipwrecked man who is having his own struggles with maps.

Contributor of family/ social and racial cartography ‘Maps to Live By’ creator Edward Ross, should be familiar to Glaswegian comic fans. His comic book series ‘Filmish’ is available in Plan B Books and despite being radically different in subject and tone is equally good and well worth checking out. ‘Maps to Live By’ is an A to Z (HA HA – see what I did there?) snapshot of a family tree with added emigration, family drama, a quest for identity and eventual discover of sorts. Beautifully illustrated and surprisingly touching for a four page piece.

‘The Pupil of Nature’ by Paul Francis is drawn in a somewhat bewitching fashion which goes some way to making up for a relatively forgettable story. If you are, or have ever met a quantity surveyor you will know what I’m getting at here. Joe Decie then turns the ‘Solipsistic Pop Dial’ up to the ‘Piss Yourself Now’ setting with ‘Always/ Never’. I defy anyone to scour these pages and not find something worthy of at least several chuckles and moments reminiscing.

There a number of comic strips here in which creators take pause to discuss the various directions, both our real and cartoon lives may take. Strips like ‘Moving House’ by Kathryn Newman and ‘You are Here’ by Matthew Sheret and SP4 editor Tom Humberstone breathe new life into those everyday, common milestones.

SP4 puts an alarmingly beautiful and jewelled shine on things and has put me into a good mood after a long shift at the day job on several evenings this week. After the last 3 or 4 months of wallowing in far too many sub standard big publisher comics, Humberstone has given me the wake up call I needed to remind me of the wealth of top quality British comics available. There are many other contributions in SP4 that are worthy of discussion and mention. Over the coming period I will try to rectify this. I did say this was an attempt, didn’t I? I might tweet/ read it. If that sounds good, let me know.


Linsay @softlyspokenlas

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