Small press; Big talent.

comicaWell my bus and train journey into London added half an hour and a metric tonne of frustration to the journey.

So when I arrived promptly at the ICA I was underwhelmed with the initial turn out.  At this point the other Comica festival goers varied from the chronically hip (chin strap beard and Sandinista scarf) to the suburban family.

Just as I was beginning to think the most exciting event of the day would be a toddler tripping up a pensioner the place was inundated with fans.

The usual groups of art students began to congregate, trying to decide amongst themselves whether comics where cool or infantile.  Though I’m sure they would not deign to use the word.  No it was graphic novels, sequential art or pictorial narratives never the dreaded C word.

Fortunately amongst the horde of pseudo intellectuals there were still plenty of comic fans.

The most amusing point for me was observing three journalists warily eyeing each other across the cafe scribbling in a furious showdown of notes.

The heart of the event was the Comiket small press fair.  It was a real privilege to see so much promising new talent in one small space.

One of the first things to catch my eye was Richy Chandlers Tempo Lush stand.  I was drawn to his Mini comic box set.  Ten mini comics folded into a bear shaped box.  They really present a broad example of what Richy is capable of producing, wry well observed and sometimes cruel humour with a good dash of weirdness thrown in.  They get you hooked and draw you to Delicate Axiom and Bunch.

Pretension and pseudo intellectualism draw the eye and I was prepared to mock Semiotic Cohesion thinking it was some overblown reference to literary criticism.  Not so, said Tom McNally the author, it is instead an obscure Transformers quote.  To be honest I should have guessed from the Lurid covers depicting The rise of the great god shark.  Tom works with a number of South African artists and they’ve been working on Semiotic cohesion for the last five years.  It’s absolutely fun and completely bonkers a great combination in my book.  If your interested in the title Tom assures me that they will be launching a web comic from the 1st of December.  Check it out and then buy the paper copy.  Nothing quite compares with holding a piece of art.

Martin Eden’s fun take on the superhero genre piqued my curiosity.  Spandex is the story of a band of gay superheroes in Brighton.  It’s funny and a great take on the bloated genre of capes and cowls.  It’s worth buying for the centre spread Attack of the 50 Ft Lesbian.

In a completely different vein I have found myself absolutely converted to Willy MJ’s Eekeemoo and I will be writing a detailed review upon it when I’ve finished reading it.  Though I can sum up what I’ve read so far as dynamic, fantastic and poignant.

In addition to all of the solo artists it was great to see some brilliant comics’ collectives.  I had agreat conversation with Matthew Sheret from we are words + pictures.  His passion and evangelism for the form are great.  I wish them every success with the educational project they are working on as it will get some much deserved recognition for comics.

One of my best buys was the Solipsistic Pop anthology.  It looks absolutely amazing and that before you even open the cover.  The quality of the writing and the artistic talent here is truly amazing.  It covers a range of genres and styles that all cover the theme broken.  My highest recommendation for this book is that it kept me awake and reading after a mammoth journey on crappy public transport.  If you consider yourself a fan of British comics buy a copy today.

All of that goodness jammed into one small theatre space makes you realise that small press deserves to flourish.

Next time I’ll be talking about the Getting Graphic talk with Bryan Talbot and the Observer-Jonathan Cape-Comica prize awards.  Tune in same bat time, same bat channel.

  1. Cheers for the nice words man! Good to meet you at Comiket!

  1. January 6th, 2010

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