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Saturday, 19 January 2013

Black Out

Writer: P M Buchan
Art: Jack Fallows, Mike Barnes, Joe Whiteford, and Philip Marsden
Demonology by Andrew Waugh
Fat Jackie by Philip Marsden
Self published

What's it about?
Black Out collects 11 stories and they are all, with the exception of The Demonologies, incredibly crude.  If you like Tank Girl, or Viz magazine, you'll probably like this. Wages of Sin is about a dirty fucker living in a hovel who gets haunted by Death and the Devil.  Zingo's Lament is a one pager about a clown who eats kids (or not) and gets sent to hell. There's one story where a fat bloke gets so high on mushrooms he decides to dress as jack o' lantern and carves a face into his belly.  It's horrific but it's also really, really funny.  What's Inside A Girl? is a tale of unrequited teenage love, with misunderstanding, booze, acid and cannibalism.  Then there are sex dolls and love in the afterlife ending in a suicide.

You get the idea.  It's horror/comedy and most definitely for mature readers only.

What's good about it?
It's a great example of an indie comic.  The big publishers have a certain type of book they produce.  Indie comics and self published comics can be done by anyone and be about anything, so you get the most imaginative, bizarre stories ever.  The stories in here have been dredged up from the filth of the creators' minds and it's wonderful.  It's depraved, it's vulgar, it's quite disgusting.  It's highly entertaining.  If you take particular pleasure in the grossness of the toilet scenes in Irvine Welsh's Trainspotting you'll probably like this.  If you want to read nasty fiction with no holds barred ideas, you'll probably like this.

Regardless of how it stands compared to other mainstream comics, it's also a good read.  It's not a full length book - only 32 pages - but within those each story is memorable and engaging.  The stories, while short, are paced well and laid out nicely. 

What's bad about it?
The Demonologies don't do a lot for me.  They are amusing enough, but don't fit very well with the rest of the comic (see right).

What's the art like?
The art is a real pleasure.  There are 6 different artists involved in this, each doing one or more story.  As you will shortly see, I am most impressed with the colours in this comic.

Wages of Sin is done by Jack Fallows (pencils and inks) and Mike Barnes (colours).  There are no words, just 9 panels per page to tell the story.  The colour palette is muted to convey the dirtiness (dare I say grittiness?) of the scenes.  This isn't fine art - it's very much cartooning - but it is very good cartooning.  There's a level of detail and griminess here that isn't present in the other stories.

Zingo's Lament is far more colourful.  There's a real richness to this page, from the red and yellow of the header, to the greens, blues, and oranges within the panels.  Backgrounds are detailed and there is no wasted space.

Fat Jackie uses simple lines and plainer backgrounds to focus the reader on the character's actions.

What's Inside A Girl? uses black and green to tell the story then, when things go wrong, brings in the red of blood, and completes with mostly blacks.  It's a coming of age horror story and has this mixture of bright optimism and despair in the words and the faces of the characters.
Eben and the Witch is black and white cartooning, of the style often seen in newspaper strips, but with a cruder bent.

The Three Coffins is beautifully done - bright lurid colours and a character style that reminds me of old fashioned cartoons.

The Object Of My Affection uses soft pastel pinks, which you would think implies a romantic atmosphere, but, as this is about a misogynist getting his comeuppance from a sex doll, it's not quite as nice as you'd expect.

Philip Marsden draws Fat Jackie, Coffins, and Object and this comic is a great showcase for his talents.  He's an excellent cartoonist and I am pretty sure that in the future I'll pick up anything he draws.

More information
You can see a sample page here. You can buy it here, in digital and print formats.  It's £3 for a hardcopy and £2 for a digital copy.

Find the creators online at these places:
P M Buchan
Andrew Waugh
Phillip Marsden
Mike Barnes
Joe Whiteford

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