Wednesday, 2 November 2011

Can you have Too Much Sex and Violence?

Too Much Sex and Violence - surely a (partial) oxymoron?Questions to which the answers must surely be no and yes, respectively.

There. That's dealt with the (intentionally) obvious pun that the title of this latest independent comic project, from Rol Hirst, demands. Now I have a confession to make - although I read a lot, I don't tend to read comic books that often. If at all. But in this case I was happy to make an exception. Rol is an engaging writer, both in his fiction and at his always-entertaining blog. So when a copy of TMSAV, as I shall henceforth acronymise it, dropped into my inbox, I was more than happy to have a read. And yes, I do know that acronymise isn't a word... but it should be, okay?

Back to TMSAV. This isn't Rol's first foray into the world of indie comics. His previous, People Just Ain't No Good, was essentially of a collection of distinct stories with a common theme (that being, people can be horrible). Artwork for PJANG (Rol acronymises too) was by various artists and, as Rol explains in the intro to TMSAV, there are many reasons for this. Artists are collaborating and offering their services for free - expecting them to draw for an entire series of comic books would be a bit much really. But where TMSAV differs from PJANG is that the story is a continuing work, rather than anthological. Yes, there are numerous sub-plots, as befits a story with a large cast, but effectively TMSAV is an ongoing tale.

And what a tale it is shaping up to be! Too Much (I'm getting a bit tired of acronyms now) is set in the fictional seaside town of Fathomsby, home to a litany of misfits, ne'er-do-wells, creatures of the night and all-manner of mutants. It's a weird old place, four parts League of Gentleman, one part Marvel comics and two parts Stephen King short story. Oh, and with a dash of Hot Fuzz too, in the shape of our hero (I think?), an honest copper transferred to this small, weird place. An intriguing combination, I'm sure you'll agree.

This, the opening instalment, is necessarily introductory. We meet our hero, the cop. We meet a shape-shifting old guy who's had enough of the neighbourhood kids. We meet a woman with telepathy that seems to limit itself to, or at least be dominated by, sexual fantasies. We meet a vampiric, though classically cheesy, local radio DJ. And a whole host of others. And through necessity, each episode in the comic book (rightly or wrongly, I came to think of them as chapters) is drawn by a different artist. This, for the most part, works surpringly well. My initial concern that the change in styles would jar (and there are a variety of styles here) proved mostly unfounded. Instead, I found that the different styles actually suited their "chapters" very well - I particularly enjoyed Andrew Cheverton's art for the "angry old man confronts local kids" episode, and Nigel Lowrey's seemed perfect for the "sex-empath" episode. I do wonder how the different artists approach will work with future issues though - once you've got used to seeing a character drawn a certain way, how will you react when you encounter him drawn completely differently? Time, I guess, will tell.

So, Too Much Sex And Violence. This isn't the kind of review that ends with a star rating, oh no. But what I can say is that I enjoyed TMSAV very much, and that I quickly forgot I was reading a comic. I was simply reading something well written and expertly put together - there's a lot of talent contained within these 28 pages. Will you enjoy reading it? Well, I'd like to think that if you're the sort of person that is reading this blog then there's a good chance you will. My advice would be to go and buy a copy and find out - I don't think you'll regret it.

You can buy TMSAV from Rol here - it’s only £2.50 for the print copy and £0.99 for a PDF, which strikes me as a bit of a bargain. What are you waiting for?

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