Suds McKenna – Bunged (O Panda Gordo, 2018)

True to its origins as ‘an ongoing series of urban sketches’, Bunged looks like something that you might encounter in scraps, as a series of drawings that had been left around the house, flat share fragments that tell the story of a busy mind in a busy world. Thankfully for your future prospects of cohabitation, this mind seems to be a little bit scared of what it sees, but not to the point where the idea of humour has been made to seem miraculous:

You would feel puzzled but not deeply perturbed by these portraits.  You wouldn’t mention them to anyone, wouldn’t deem them any more necessary of commentary than the fact that a bar was crowded on a Friday.  Or indeed, that some of the streets pictured here – like Buchanan Street, above – were filled with bodies at the weekend.

It’s the distortions of the human form that give this work its non-banal aspect, suggestive as they are of both a deep subjectivity (as drawn into the page by your mystery flatmate/as read into the page by you) and of the fact that these people have more going on than you can fathom (as drawn into the page by your flatmate/as recognised from the world you’ve seen with your own damn eyes). This is itself is hardly a startling realisation, of course, but it’s vividly expressed here and comforting in context.

Monstrous as we are, it’s good to know that we’re not alone.

Aki Hassan – Untitled cloud comic (self-published, bought up at Ghost Comics Festival 2018)

This slim, carefully stitched comic, meanwhile, would be best encountered in the aforementioned pub setting, as something that had been left at a table by the last people there, a sacred document that had somehow not absorbed any spilled beer.

In this context, this strip would be equal parts comfort and disquiet.  Comfort because it speaks of a mindset in tune with the forces of the universe, an artist who feels themselves to be in humorous dialogue with the natural world, and disquiet because it gets at something of the huffy nature of that world.

Drink up. Move on. Look to the skies. Smile. Remain vigilant.

Christopher Priest, Denys Cowan, Dick Giordano, Vince Giordano and Gene D’Angelo – Total Justice #3 (DC, 1996) 

This comic would be best encountered when you were young enough to get excited for the toys it exists to sell. In an ideal world, you would never be able to get a hold of the first two parts of this three part story or the toys that “inspired it”, so its images (crude without being dynamic), dialogue (declarative, with occasional ambitions towards character) and concepts (familiar to the point of big screen boredom in 2019) would end up being enriched by a process of gradual, obsessive filling-in on the part of the reader.

Even read in these circumstances, the end of the story – the heroes come face-to-face with the villain, who decides that he can’t be bothered and goes home – would feel anticlimactic.  But those brief mentions of “Fractal Techgear” and the splodges of unevenly applied metallic crap that heroes both familiar (Batman, he has some movies! The Flash, that was a TV show, right?) and unfamiliar (the Green Lantern… is that some sort of sectarian thing?) are wearing in this story… all that stuff that has just the right sort of vagueness to intrigue a brain that longs for contact with arcane knowledge and doesn’t know where to look for it except from the local shopping centre.

Eli Spencer and Sophie Robin – Banshee (Power Couple Press, 2018)

A series of lush but gnarly illustrations of female monsters, Banshee would be best encountered upon completion of a long bit of work that had forced you to… if not quite isolate yourself, then at least to reduce your world to a couple of rooms and a crowd of people small enough not to fill them.

You should read this book when you’re ready to emerge, when your efforts have found new shapes, new forms of beauty.

You would read it while spreading your wings in a flourish that threatened to block out the sun.

It would be hard not to enjoy it.

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