Filed under: Comic Reviews, Indie Comics | Tags: Berlin, Jonbot Vs Martha, NeilSlorance
You know that an indie book/creator is doing things right when you need to get your hands on the latest issue just as much as your normal weekly comics. It happened with No More Heroes. It happened with The Standard. And now it’s happened again with Neil Slorance’s follow up to Nine Lines of Metro – Seven Days in Berlin.
A few weeks ago at the latest Team Girl Comics Drink and Draw, (quickly becoming a regular event where both art and booze bump drunkenly into one and other) after having settled down with my pint and a pencil, I was alerted to the fact that Neil had a stall set up at the event with his new comic – “The Berlin one?” I asked, “Yep”, “Aw shit – I need to go get me one of those!” – and in cartoon Road Runner style, I was gone.
I’ve been a big fan of Neil’s work for a while – not only in his exceptional weekly web comic Jonbot vs. Martha that he collaborates with Colin Bell on – but also his various artistic outputs found scattered round the interweb. It’s likely if you’ve been browsing 9Gag or Reddit then you may have seen of Neil’s work (sometimes unfortunately uncredited!) – he does an excellent job of mixing child like sketches with meme-style comedy. His Etsy store is starting to build up with a nice selection of prints, t-shirts, badges and even Christmas cards!
Like Nine Lines, Seven Days in Berlin is a travelogue comic and follows Neil’s recent trip to – you guessed it – Berlin. My interested piqued when Neil told me that it’s an actual sequel to Nine Lines – and he wasn’t wrong – it’s got a previously on and everything at the start! In Nine Lines, Neil’s trip to Barcelona, he meets a girl called Lisa (from Berlin), who he’s kept in touch with and is now visiting for a week. Simple – no robots, time travel or superpowers in sight – just an ordinary guy on an ordinary holiday. Except it’s much more than that!
This book has tonnes of heart in it – in fact you could go so far as to say this is a romance comic, but not just a ‘Guy likes Girl’ romance, a ‘Guy likes travel’ and ‘Guy likes tortoises’ too! Neil’s got an excellent eye for interesting situations and has picked nothing but the best bits of his seven days to keep every page flow with a mixture of hilarious anecdotes and really sweet personal moments. I’ll not lie – this book probably has just as many heart wrenching moments as it does jokes and by the end I just wanted to go give Neil a hug, buy him a plane ticket back to Berlin and wait to read the third instalment.
Neil’s simplistic art style adds loads of charm to the book, but it’s also nice to see how much he’s progressed over time too. Working on a weekly strip has certainly helped Neil refine his craft and allow him to experiment more with shading and colouring – anyone who’s read the first arc of Jonbot will know that the last few instalments are mind-blowing incredible and a far cry for the strip’s origin. He’s transferred a lot of that learning onto his second travelogue and it’s all the better for it too – there’s even a double splash page in there!
The best way I can find to describe Neil’s comics are to compare them to Wes Anderson’s films (Rushmore, Royal Tenenbaums, Life Aquatic etc) – they’re quirky, funny and emotional, just minus the funky soundtrack (next time Neil?). What makes the biggest difference though is knowing that what’s in the pages of Neil’s work is all real (well maybe except the giant talking tortoise) and in some ways feels much less fake than posting cheesy posed holiday photos of yourself on your Facebook wall. I look forward to reading about Neil’s future travels!
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