Comics Anonymous

DISCONNECTED PRESS – LOST: BOYS by Linsay @softlyspokenlas

I wasn’t kidding when I said I found the most excellent comics at Kapow! 2012 in the pub. Sadly, due to this being an incredibly busy convention season I am only now getting around to writing about and in some cases reading them. It’s always a challenge to decide which of your convention swag comics to read first and I often wonder how others choose. Will their first be an old favourite now signed by the writer? A convention exclusive variant cover? The impulse small press buy because the zombie on the back cover bears more than a passing resemblance to your friend’s boyfriend’s mother’s ex?

Personally, I fire through the covers and wait to see what catches my eye. From my post Kapow! swag (and a sizeable pile of booty it was) I chose the Disconnected Press anthology ‘Lost: Boys’. It’s got a simple, yet striking cover which really resonated with me. It’s a single image which says so much and reminds us that we know very little and not nearly as much as we might presume about the people we meet in life. Like this cover, we get a snapshot of those individuals in our lives, only knowing and possibly caring about them in that particular instance and only in relation to ourselves. The Disconnected Press ‘Lost: Boys’ anthology goes beyond the formal year photograph and looks at the lives of four very different boys.

All four stories are written by Lizzie Boyle and drawn by artists Tony Rothwell, Louis Carter, Brian Rankin and Neil McClements. Each story had a unique artistic feel to it, as you would expect, but Boyle has adapted and changed her approach to each of the Boys stories to lend a wonderfully and apparently authentic faux autobiographical tone

Common themes linking these four stories are the approaching end of a childhood, escapism, freedom and of course bicycles. In ‘Jimmy’ the are moments of the everyday spliced with the chilling and fantastic. This contrast is made all the more striking thanks to Rothwell’s vibrant and expressive sale. His art seems to contradict itself from within the panels, echoing the story’s characters mixed up emotions so well.

There were several moments during ‘Billy’ when I thought I knew where Boyle was taking her narrative, leading us down a dark path to witness the loss of childhood innocence in the basest and most brutal of fashions. Thankfully either I completely misread things or Boyle and Watts tricked me brilliantly. This story ends up being surprisingly touching. The art in ‘Billy’ is a decidedly small press niche affair which works relatively well to tell this insular story. There is a lot of good variation in the line work with keeps things interesting and lively. I did find myself frowning at the figures, form and facial expressions regularly as I don’t think they were working as intended.

‘Tom’ is welcome change of pace as Boyle adapts the lyrics of David Bowie’s ‘Space Oddity’ to form the basis of a dark and shocking reminiscence of resigned freedom. It is the first of two stories to look at the pro(re)gression to adulthood. There is no dialogue but the lyrical palings work so well with what is happening in the panels that the story doesn’t miss a beat. It is rare that a ‘silent’ strip at any end of the market is successful. This one is. ‘Tom’ is drawn by Brian Rankin and his dark, claustrophobic style drives home everything that this strip is about.

The final strip ‘Lee’ looks at previously mentioned themes by showing an intimate snapshot of an individual who’s full name the reader should undoubtedly recognise. The moment chronicled at first appears so small and is relayed in such a meditative manner that the true horror is not fully realised until towards the end of the strip. It is a great reveal and has wonderful tension. Artist McClements boasts great figures, interesting perspectives and faces that tell more stories than the Beano.

The Lost: Boys anthology has raised the bar for modern anthologies. Each page and panel within that shows such deliberation that it’s impossible not to immediately take notice of Disconnected Press and seek out these individual creators other work. This is a short book with four pages given over to information on creators, including short biographies while the outside back cover is barely utilised at all. This may have been part of the overall look that Disconnected were going for with the book but I’d have preferred to see another strip.

This is an emotive and sensitive anthology that will be well worth your time in seeking out.


Linsay – @softlyspokenlas

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