Story: Lizzie Boyle @lizzieboylesays
Art: Connor Boyle @pencil_monkey
Letters: Jim Campbell @CampbellLetters
Publisher: Disconnected Press www.disconnectedpress.co.uk
Saturday 3rd Feb found me at the first comic con of the year: True Believers, in Cheltenham. As ever a great event, but that’s not up for discussion right now. Right now, what we need to talk about is the new(ish) book from Disconnected Press which was released at Thought Bubble 2017.
The first thing to say about it is that I have no idea what it’s called. And that’s how it’s supposed to be. The front cover has a whole heap of words on it, any of which could be the title and, as it happens, also used to describe the protagonist: Hero, Feak, Miracle – any of these, or the other ten words on the cover, could fit the bill to describe the central character, depending on the cut of your jib.
The fella we’re talking about here looks to be in his sixties, not exactly in the prime of life or what you expect as the focus of a comic. Don’t let that fool you though; he can do extraordinary things. The central theme the book explores is how an individual displaying what look a lot like ‘super powers’ might be treated; by friends, neighbours, governments. No spoilers, so I won’t say exactly what happens, but this is an awesome piece of work from Disconnected Press.
Lizzie’s writing is sharp – although there’s very little in the way of shouting or the usual confrontational language of a superhero book (and we could certainly slot it into that genre), she manages to create a tension that urges the story on. At the same time, you can imagine the central character’s voice being soft and tinged with loneliness as he makes choices for the sake of others at his own expense. She also manages to help us understand how, despite the maturity of his years, this guy is lost – he doesn’t understand what’s happening to him or have any real control over his situation; creating a fascinating contrast between a man entering old age and a sense of vulnerability more akin to that of a bewildered child. Really great work.
Of course, a comic can live or die by the quality of the artwork, and for me that’s what comics have always been about; if the artwork’s off, I can really struggle to get into the story. I haven’t read as many comics as some, but it’s probably into three figures and I’m hard pushed to remember one where the artwork so brilliantly supports the story. Connor has nailed it with work that fit’s the emotionally raw tone of this book perfectly. Largely monochrome with elements of colour, he told me he used a variety of traditional media to arrive at what is right up there as one of the best-looking books I’ve read. His linework, which sits over the textured paint and crayon, seems to pull the characters out of the obscured fog of a background to become wonderfully rendered, almost ghost like figures. There’s an economy to the art which lets the panels breath throughout the book and plenty of panels with no dialogue – it would be great to hear from Lizzie and Connor how much of that was scripted and how much artistic interpretation. Whatever the answer, this is a fantastic looking book.
Finally, a word for Jim Campbell on letters – the book certainly isn’t dialogue heavy but Jim manages to set out the balloons so that they’re never detrimental to the artwork. Add to that the fact that every panel is wonderfully generous; the white space around the text helping to give the dialogue space which really supports the pacing of the story – another great piece of the jigsaw.
Overall then, this is an outstanding book and if you want something that is thought provoking, emotional and beautiful to look at you could do far worse than this.