Gareth A. Hopkins – Petrichor

November 14th, 2019

The images in Petrichor look like a series of portraits of a flight of stairs as seen by someone in the process of falling down them.

The images in Petrichor are black and white except for those that are in colour.

Individual panels do not contain any words, except from when they do. These words form a non-linear narrative, except for the ones that are drawn on the images themselves, which form a different part of that narrative.

The narrative comes crashing in and out like waves.

This does not mean that it always starts or ends in the same place.

The visual parts of this narrative look like portraits of these waves as seen from the perspective of the sand the waves are breaking on.

Each panel is a wave.  Each page is a wave.  Each wave is…

Every element of the narrative is a grain of sand.  The waves are crashing over.

***

Petrichor is a book about dying.

Petrichor is a book for the dead.

Petrichor is a book about life, for the living.

It’s a book about how ghosts are made up and why we need them anyway. It’s a book about how ghosts are real.

Petrichor is a book of stray thoughts, abstract images, brand names, missing people, scenes repeating as the waves crash over.  It’s a book about love and loss and family.  All of this feels like an accident.  Everything in this books seems carefully put together and well maintained.

Petrichor is a black and white comic except when it’s in colour.

And you are still falling down the stairs.  And the waves are crashing over.  Ghosts and sand.  Missing people.  People who are here.

And the waves crash over.

For the ninth year in a row the Mindless Ones will be hawking our tawdry wares at the Thought Bubble comics convention, which is taking place in Harrogate this weekend.

None of us have cracked the secrets of eternal life, but the dadforce is strong in this group, and at least three of us are more handsome than we were back in 2011, where Andre Whickey tried to sell me for low low price and failed completely.

Will the gang manage to make some money off me this time?

Unlikely. Everyone knows my love is free.

But we’ll be more than happy to see you either at our stall – ComiXology Originals Hall, Table 16 – or at the SILENCE! to Astonish panel at Room A – Queen’s Stage, 2pm on Saturday!

Here’s the blurb for the panel:

Gary Lactus and The Beast Must Die of SILENCE! and Al Kennedy of House of Astonish inflict daft games, badly researched questions and ill-advised impressions on a very special, hand-picked, crack group of comic professional victi-err… guests.

House to Astonish is Scotland’s longest-running comics podcast and has been featuring comics news and reviews for over ten years. SILENCE! is the world’s only comics podcast.

This year’s guests are: Giant Days writer and Steeple jack John Allison (not my uncle), Analog scribe Gerry Duggan, These Savage Shores writer Ram V, and word/art specialist and Breaks-smith Emma Vieceli.

Team Mindless will also be happy to savour the sweet, sweet taste of money in exchange for the products of our labour.

Here’s who’ll be selling what at our table…

ANDRE WHICKEY / ANDREW HICKEY

Dre isn’t selling any books at our table though you may be able to buy some off him.

GARY LACTUS / FRASER GEESIN

The big massive genius of his generation, Larry Gactus will be in the building with his latest misterpiece, Journey To The Surface Of The Earth #1.

Twenty pages pf A4 full colour and B&W goodness, Journey To The Surface Of The Earth was described as “a fittingly witty celebration of the mundane” by Broken Frontier’s Andy Oliver, who quite rightly asked us all to celebrate “the unique mindscape of this seriously underappreciated mainstay of the UK self-publishing scene”. DARE YOU DENY HIM?

Larry Leesin will also be selling a brand new micro-zine, Good Frence #1

Good Frence has new Amusing Brothers strips and what I’m reliably told by the postman is a full page, ham-fisted Brexit analogy. Andy Oliver might not have told you to buy it but I am, right here and now. Am I not good enough for you? Fair enough, but you still deserve Good Frence, for all your sins.

Gazer Freesin will also have copies of his phenomenal autobio comic The Cleaner, the world’s best Ikea comics anthology KOMISK! and a fistful of other treats for the faithful on the table too.

ILLOGICAL VOLUME / DAVID ALLISON

I’ll be there with Beyond Whiles, the latest in my series of comics about abandoned places and the people who live in them.

A leisurely walk through a glitchy environment in the process of rebooting, Beyond Whiles is also an attempt to turn cheek into currency – in this case, by adapting the works of Weegie author and mural-enthusiast Alasdair Gray into comics form.

I’ll also have copies of LGH and Labyrinths if slow explosions or hauntings are more your thing, and I’ve reprinted Cut-Out Witch, my 2013 collaboration with Lynne Henderson.

Praise for my solo comics:

Classic British indie small press pamphlet, and a sharp burst of mood and ideas. It’s very much comics as poem – it’s the sort of work that Douglas Noble has been known to do” – Kieron Gillen

A spooky zine… Liked this a lot. The writing is really strong and the art suggests just enough to make you uneasy – Sarah Horrocks

Praise for my comic with Lynne:

“Cut-Out Witch is really good… Lovely creepy stuff” – Twitter’s own James Baker

“You do seem to be able to dash such things off quite easily, I kind of wish I could do that…” - A Trout in the Circus’ very own Plok

Praise for you, praise for me – PRAISE ME!

THE BEAST MUST DIE / DAN WHITE

The mighty Beast is back with the second installment of his new horror anthology, Sticky Ribs!

Broken Frontier’s Andy Oliver, who you worship as a god, forsaking far less useful and productive deitys-in-waiting like me, had this to say about the latest release from the werewolf factory at Dead Light Comics:

This is prime White material with the juxtaposition of innocent, childlike diary entries and horrifying reality perfectly counterpointing each other and, through their contrast, making events all the more chilling. It’s Maurice Sendak by way of Cormac McCarthy, with wide-eyed innocence going hand in hand visually with a surrounding inescapable devastation.

He’s not wrong, this Andy Oliver. I can see why you’re currently building an alter for him, out in the woods, where you think no one can see you. I don’t approve of your methods but the impulse behind them… that I can get. Anyway, here’s a sneak peak of the horrors of the first story in The Beast’s latest:

As always, the ever-loving, red-eyed Beast will have copies of his astonishing kids comic Cindy and Biscuit to sell, and stories to tell that will add or remove hair to various body parts as required.

THRILLS / PAUL JON MILNE 

Paul will be debuting his new comic Hard Ships at our table this weekend.

In a move that will astonish and tantalize my fellow Miln-o-maniacs, Hard Ships looks deep into the muscle mysteries that are Milne’s muse and finds itself out there in space, exploring new frontiers of braw humour and shame.

Or at least, that’s what the postman tells me.

Milne will also have copies of  Grave Horticulture #1 and #2 for sale at our table.

Here’s what Sarah Horrocks had to say about that mulchy wonder for The Comics Journal:

Milne is an artist who can effortlessly land a fiery car engine on the neck of a musclebound maniac and you immediately understand what that’s all about. And unlike most writers today, he can give an origin story for a character in two pages or less.

The result is a tome of addled freaks, violence poets, and blood vegans who all feel coherent within a swamp of UK housing and geographic dilapidation.

Bobsy and Mister Attack will also be in full effect all weekend, dishing out love and violence to those who know how to ask for what. I pity the fools that use the wrong code words at the wrong time. Those poor souls. Those hopeless, shattered wretches. So hard to imagine their suffering. So hard not to want to be them.

So… where was I?

Yes. Thought Bubble 2019. Harrogate. Table 16, Originals Hall. See you there?

Last time we caught up with the Histville boys, they were young and reckless, caught up in that pop life and looking forward to the end of their story. That end finally came with the publication of Hitsville UK #7 last year. Dan Cox and John Riordan are broken men now, no longer a pair of jolly cartoon heroes

…but a couple of real live humans, with families and feelings:

As such, it didn’t seem right to feed them the same recycled Smash Hits interview questions we’ve used a few times over now. This time round we would do it right, with glib, insultingly stupid questions of our own.

As far as a general overview of what Hitsville is and why you should read it, I can’t much improve on what I wrote last time around:

More than any other comic about bands or music, Hitsville UK mimics the thrill and excitement of its subject.  Somewhat perversely, this comes from its overwhelming commitment to the comic book form.  Where other comics about music feel like extrapolations of zine culture or traditional adventure stories themed around pop stars, Hitsville UK actually feels like music.  By reveling in the joys of putting weird looking characters into even weirder situations, trusting that they can keep a rush of daft words and pictures coming and that they can keep it relevant, Riordan and Cox capture something of the hyped up love buzz of being into music.  A mix of wanting to keep up with the story and wanting to feel part of the moment as it happens around you.

What I will say is that the issues of Hitsville that have been published since then have had an increased sense of urgency to them. The boys may not have set out to create a fantasy of communal resilience in an age that seems increasingly under threat by undead attitudes, shambling zombie racism, and the endless monetization of your every passing daydream, but fuck me if they didn’t do it anyway!

Hitsville UK is great, kaleidoscopic fun. You should probably buy it.

But don’t just listen to me. Listen to handsome hunk Dan Cox and bedazzled urchin John Riordan, who were generous enough to give me their time while they were in the middle of preparing their lush summer survival bunker, rumoured to be located in the abandoned underwater garden of a shady octopus…

1. When the first issue of Hitsville UK was published back in 2011, David Cameron was out in the wild hugging unsuspecting hoodies and Malcolm Tucker impersonations were still just about socially acceptable.

Are you the same people you were back then? Have you switched faces? Traded names? Sold parts of your souls in return for those sweet comics dollars?

Dan Cox: Switched faces, traded names, switched back, rinsed and repeated. I’m pretty sure we’re back to being the other. It is depressing looking at our cameos as I go from this svelte long-haired snake-hipped lovely to a portly beardy man. Interestingly John hasn’t seemed to change much, I’m sure this is nothing to do with him being the artist and everything to do with healthier lifestyle choices and superior grooming regime.

John Riordan: Working on Hitsville has been like a nine-year version of Face/Off (NB. I have never seen Face/Off). My favourite review of the comic credited it to Dan Riordan and John Cox. I don’t think I bothered drawing us into the last two issues of Hitsville. Prior to the final issue coming out we both became dads and we now both resemble post-war criminal Tony Blair. I drew my baby daughter into a crowd scene in issue 7 instead. I’m fully embracing vicarious living through the next generation now.

DC: We were the DJ act opening for Gwillum!

<strong>JR</strong>: Oh yes, good point! See, my brain is crumbling as well as my looks.