Birdsong coverBirdsong/Songbird Anthology from Failboat Press

What’s it all about?

An eclectic mix of short strips from a selection of UK small press comic creators. I think the collection would have benefited from a short introduction, or explanation of its aims, as otherwise it’s a little difficult to describe. There seems to be an animal/bird/London theme emerging through most of the strips. Judging by the title, perhaps the strips are meant to represent glimpses of stories, the way you hear a snatch of birdsong?

What do I like about it?

It’s a flip book with some stories read left to right and some right to left. Make sure you remember this, unlike me, as the stories make much more sense when read in their correct orientation!

Peckham by Will Kirby sees Hell-hounds chasing a girl and her grandfather through the streets of Peckham. Then seeking salvation from an oracle. A fast paced story which gives us a glimpse into an alternative London filled with mystery and magic. This feels like part of a longer story, which I’d be interested to read.

TC. Acorn & Longtail, a Boy & Bird Team by Nikki Stuart has the boy and bird team attacking a rogue pigeon to retrieve stolen pixie dust. A fun little tale with hints of a larger story afoot.

Little Fish by David O’Connell portrays a robber with a heart of gold when it comes to fish. A two page story that absolutely radiates character.

Thames Reach by Sarah McIntyre gives us a heartbreaking look at a lonely girl in a big city and a pigeon she meets. I don’t want to say too much about it for fear of ruining its impact.

The Defenders of Albion by WJC is an extremely clever story, as it works equally well when read left to right or right to left. A boy fights monsters in two different versions of his life, with differing outcomes on his personality.

Ginnel by Naniiebim is a vignette showing a frightening world where the characters become desperate enough to eat snails, and there seems to be no way to escape.

Songbird coverWhat about the artwork?

The cover illustrations, the way the light catches the embossed motifs on the covers, and the overall design ethic make it a gorgeous package. 

The interior greyscale art varies hugely in style, but is all of a high quality.

Will Kirkby’s highly detailed and carefully toned work gives a real sense of action and movement, while Nikki Stu’s sparser backgrounds and dynamic linework achieve the same effect in a different way.

Sarah McIntyre’s and David O’Connell’s more cartoony styles immediately elicit sympathy and warmth towards their characters.

The facial expressions and posture of WJC’s characters effectively portray their feelings, and highlight the transformation the main character undergoes during the story.

Naniiebim’s scratchy manga style and use of shading helps give a dark and foreboding edge to her story.

Why might Girly Comic readers like it?

Several of the strips contain interesting female characters, and the anthology contains a wide range of stories and styles, which you seem to appreciate in The Girly Comic.

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The Beany #4 coverThe Beany Issue #4 by Michael Nobbs

What’s it all about?

It’s an illustrated journal, which deals with the period after the death of Michael’s mother, and his growing appreciation of the small pleasures life has to offer.

What do I like about it?

I discovered Michael’s blog a few months ago and have been loving his posts on creativity and simplicity. This led me to pick up The Beany #4 in order to get even more insight into his life and philosophy. The thing that appeals to me most about Michael’s work is that it speaks to me and makes me feel a connection. I’m lucky enough not to have lost any close family members in recent years, but I think Michael’s struggles and the way he learns to find joy again will resonate with anyone that’s had dark periods in their life. Even if you haven’t experienced grief or depression, then you can still identify with Michael’s pleasure at rediscovering the delight in Angel Delight, or the realisation that drawing something cheering everyday is a wonderful form of therapy.
 

What about the artwork?

There is an endearing quality to Michael’s simplistic, yet observationally accurate, line drawings of favourite foods, and memory-laden toiletries. I like the fact that the illustrations hold your interest despite, or perhaps because of the fact that they are everyday items. Things that people don’t take the time to study, notice and appreciate.

This is a full colour issue, which makes it a little pricey, but the contrasting colours and design make it a lovely little book overall.

I’m also biased by the projects on Michael’s blog, such as 75 Ways to Draw More, which dovetails with the DIY ethos we like to promote at Caption events.

Why might Girly Comic readers like it?

It has an emotional honesty similar to that found in the autobiographical strips of Lee Kennedy and Jeremy Day.