Tuesday, 7 December 2010

Tyneside Zombies, Superheroes and monsters

The Paperjam Comics Collective are a group of small press comic creators in Newcastle, and they’ve just released a collection entitled ‘Food for the Dead’, which is, as the name suggests, a zombie book.
It is a series of tales about individual people in and around Tyneside, and telling of their experiences in the aftermath of whatever caused the zombie invasion.

As with all anthologies, there are some tales and artists that are better than others. But the most important thing with comic art is storytelling, and that is of a pretty good standard throughout. The stories themselves are surprisingly good. I say surprising because, you know, it’s zombies, and there is an argument to be made that they are a bit overexposed at the moment. But the tales here range from the darkly humorous, to the just plain dark by way of some genuinely touching moments. There are also hints throughout of an overarching back story, and I wouldn’t say no to seeing some more of this.
If I had to pick one name from the book- I don’t of course, but I’m going to- it would be Faye Stacey, the artists on the tale ‘Miss Turner’. I really love her art style.

Paul Thompson, one of the contributors to Food for the Dead, also produces his own comic, Tales of the Hollow Earth, and issue 2 has just been published.

I feel I can’t talk too much about this story for fear of spoilering it for those who haven’t read it yet (or have yet to read the first issue). But I will say this, Thompson, who both writes and draws this, has plotted out a hell of a captivating and intriguing mystery story. He's working with some pretty big ideas and deep concepts in here, and it's a credit to his skill as a writer that he not only manages to pull them off, but to communicate them to the reader. His art may not be the greatest, but it is good (better than mine!) and his layouts are always well thought out and inventive. You should buy this.
Finally, from Food of the Dead contributors Gary Bainbridge and Daniel Clifford is Sugar Glider. In a step away from the zombie plague of FotD and the otherworldly, Cycolpean plots of Tales of the Hollow Earth, this is a superhero tale. Bored teenager Susie Sullivan crime fights in the city of Newcastle in the guise of the titular heroine. 

This is the first issue, so some of it is concerned with setting up the premise, although they are clever enough to hold back answers to the big questions until the promised second issue.
Again, I really enjoyed reading this. It reminded me of those old classics Billy the Cat and The Leopard from Lime Street. There are some storytelling issues with the art in places, and some instances where the script would have benefited from another pass, but overall, it’s a strong debut.
Click on the links above and buy these books!
This is what comics are all about- not the latest spin-off issue of Batman or X-men, but the true creativity that you find in the Small Press.

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