Got Your Nose, Douglas Noble, self published 2016

“Who is this bastard and why is he lying to me?!” – this was the first instruction given to me by my favourite English Lit lecturer, a guide for how to approach any given novel, no – check the expiration date, still seems good to go – any given text.  Shame that it falls apart only when you apply it back to the source, eh?

After all, who the fuck was this man and what did he have to gain from carving out space for that idea?  Only his whole fucking career.

Still, if I can’t pretend that this question will keep a roof over my head, I can still carry a jagged little fragment of it around in my back pocket, not so much an offensive weapon as a talisman to ward off the sly lies of authors, always so keen to have you see things their way.  So it goes with cartoonist Douglas Noble, whose New Lies in Every Line has had me bewitched and bewildered for a full year now.

I met Douglas at this year’s Thought Bubble festival, and spotting a sucker, he drew me in with his carnival barker’s knowledge of how to see into the heart of the audience, to know not just what they want to see but what they need to see.  He promised me that he was moving away from narrative and further into the realm of pure theme, and having glanced briefly at Got Your Nose, I believed him.

What can I say, I’ll always be a sucker for a Scottish accent in a distant land!

“Show and Tell” – ZORSE

November 7th, 2016

Written and drawn by Ramzee, tones by Liz Greenfield, cover art by Abigail Dela Cruz (self published, 2016) 

Here’s how you know this is good before you even so much as look at the cover: it was the only self-published comic to be nominated for the Young People’s Comics Award this year, and it lost.  I’m not saying that this automatically makes it the best comic on the list, but… face it, it probably does.

Anyway, it’s worth checking this perception for yourself, looking past the soft, friendly cover (above) and into ZORSE itself, which somehow manages to live up to this charming initial impression while also channelling the frustration of Ramzee’s phenomenal turn on the Diversity panel at SMASH in London earlier this year, that feeling that you’re dealing with someone who is sick of people who… well, let’s not mess around, people who look like me (white, male, middle class, probably with a beard and glasses) being heard to the exception of all others.

More than this: the feeling that you’re dealing with someone who is ready to seize every opportunity to get those voices out there.

SMASHback #2: ASSvision

September 20th, 2016

Some more thoughts on the London Graphic Novel Network‘s second S.M.A.S.H. event, as previously discussed here.

You can watch the panel I contributed to below:

My speech at the start of this panel now exists like the death of Orion in/around Final Crisis, in a mini-kaleidoscope of different versions and recordings scattered across the internet – suits me, given the daft flourish about the Tower of Babel I threw in at the end of it!

The other panellists brought a range of expertise, and while there weren’t any heated arguments, I think our personalities and perspectives clashed in a way that was generally illustrative – Hannah was comfortable enough in her own skin to be flip and funny about taste, Katriona‘s contributions were considered and precise, and Mark‘s focus on technical skill neatly offset my own pseudo-academic tendencies.

As for the broader event, if you’d asked me I would have said that the crowd skewed young and “progressive” (not a term I’m over-fond of myself – I like specificity, a sense of what is being advanced – but having just used it like this I can see the appeal of its vagueness) but there was some pushback when Kelly Kanayama/Maid of Nails discussed the use of racist tropes in the first Warren Ellis/Bryan Hitch Authority story during the panel on MEANING.

Reconstructing intent was a running theme of all three panels (the other two were ART and DIVERSITY, remember), and in this instance it took the form of the Good Man defence