Comics Anonymous

June 25, 2012, 8:30 am
Filed under: Comic Reviews, Indie Comics | Tags: , ,

In case you hadn’t noticed, Glasgow is booming with comics talent at the moment – and I don’t just mean your big names like Mark Millar and Frank Quitely. From the Glasgow League of Writers to Team Girl Comic and high quality titles like The Standard and No More Heroes, there’s a massive choice of small press goodness on offer, with no sign of it slowing down either. Unlike The Standard and NMH though, Neil Slorance’s new book Nine Lines of Metro changes the pace entirely, slowing things down and doing something a little different with the comics medium.

You may be familiar with Neil’s work on the seminal webcomic Jonbot Vs. Martha – a weekly series telling the tales of a couple on the brink of divorce, whose family life is turned upside down when Jon dies, but is brought back as a robot. It’s both hilarious and heart-warming, mixing amusing pop culture references into unusual scenarios, like helping their daughter recognise her new robotic father for who he is, and not mistaking a petrol pump for him instead. Neil works as the artist for the strip, with his outputs going from strength to strength, dealing with each and every crazy plot turn that writer Colin Bell throws at him. I urge you to go and read the web comic now if you’ve not seen it already, and then go along and vote for them in the categories they are nominated for in this year’s SICBA awards at the Glasgow Comic Con (i.e. all of them!).

Neil’s created his own little book, Nine Lines of Metro, self published through his Pipe Down Books range that he and singer/songwriter Shambles Miller owns. The book is comic journal of his recent trip to Barcelona where he stayed with friends and explored the sites. What struck me most when starting the book was that his trip was the last week in May 2012 – not even a month ago! Since then, he’s managed to put together a 22 page comic detailing his journey – an impressive feat.

By his own admission in the book itself, Neil’s drawing style is quite childish, but in my opinion only adds to its charm. The art style lends itself well with the tone of the book – a chilled out and simplistic take on his travels, it’s almost got a children’s book feel to it, but with plenty of thought behind it so that it doesn’t excluding an older audience. Neil’s hand drawn round-edged panels give it a very nostalgic photo album feel, with handwritten narrative almost like what you’d find on a postcard. You won’t find any twists or underlying subplots here, just a relaxed retelling of the highlights from each of his days away.

The laid back nature of the book reminded me a lot of titles like Jeff Lemire’s Essex County and Gabriel Ba and Fabio Moon’s Daytripper. I’ve always been a fan, in both comics and films, where the plot slows right down and rather than being about one thing in particular, is just about life itself, unfolding on the page or screen. Nine Lines is just the same – it’s not about Barcelona, but is instead a slice of Neil’s life – there’s clearly a lot of things that have led Neil up to this point, but we’re just getting a little insight into his life over that week.

The whole concept of the book is also something that fascinates me – similar to the way that a lot of people will keep online travel blogs, or put together a photo slideshow/album of their holiday snaps, this book acts as a record of what Neil got up to on his travels that he can share with friends and family – and us! It really expands on what comics can be used for, employing it’s storytelling nature to make his retelling of his journey much more interesting than if Neil himself was to sit and recall the whole experience in conversation, or sit you down through a 300 photo slideshow. And while you might think ‘Why would I want to read about someone else’s holiday?’ the book still has enough heart and soul in it that, without knowing Neil himself, you do care and become sympathetic to its lead character.

You can buy a copy of the book (limited to 100 copies!) from either Neil’s Etsy store or from Plan B Books in Glasgow.


Craig – @hastiecraig

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