November 8th, 2016
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.
November 20th, 2015
I might have come away from the Thought Bubble comics convention with a terrible hangover and an overwhelming desire to have a proper rummage through the back issue bins, but I can’t say that I came back short of good zines, great comics and better memories.
Here are five of the most exciting books I picked up last weekend…
1. Jonathan Chandler – Another Blue World (Breakdown Press, 2015)
At last Saturday’s SILENCE! x Breakdown Press interview panel, Jonathan Chandler was discussed as an artist who had staked out territory similar to that which Brian Chippendale had occupied but who had got there before it became a trendy holiday destination for art house cartoonists.
I’m not familiar enough with the man’s work to debate these claims, but reading Another Blue World what struck me was how important Chandler’s elusive sense of space is to communicating this particular set of hostile environments:
It’s not so much that Chandler is limiting what the reader can see to a few tufts of grass or a short stretch of water around his characters that makes his work stand out, more that he seemingly feels no pressure to fill up blank space on the page.
In a Brian Chippendale comic we might find ourselves feeling overwhelmed by the amount of detail, struggling to distinguish signal from noise whether we’re faced with the tiny cramped panels of Maggots or the wider canvases of If’n Oof or Ninja. In Prison Pit we are confronted blocky horror after blocky horror, but we know that this grim escalation will follow proceed through the sort of absurd escalations that are Johnny Ryan’s speciality.
Reading Chandler’s work, meanwhile, we are confronted with an eerie silence. All around us, we find unreadable white space, all of it primed with danger. Forms approach, assaults are perpetrated, sex is weaponised, but we can never be sure whether things are going to get worse or just sort of hang there:
I might crave for something beyond this harsh replication of animalistic imperatives, but there’s no denying that Another Blue World makes them painfully vivid.