Saturday, June 30, 2007

Stripping Down #22 - Small Press, Big World

Trixie Biker: Enter Jack Narcissus (WaterCooler Comix)
by Matthew Craig

Deva City’s premier superhero is back, along with her trusty bike Dixie and The Go-Go-Pixies. I enjoyed this more than #1, mostly due to a smart script that satirises the current trend for recycling pop (pap?) boy bands like the Backstreet Boys and Take That. Matthew Craig’s storytelling is simple without being simplistic and, as before, his enthusiasm and obvious affection for the characters greatly compensate for the artistic shortcomings. I like the fact that Craig have moved forward, both narratively and stylistically, and I’d like to see him continue to develop both – particularly the visuals – in future issues.

Visit Matthew Craig's website
to purchase a print copy or rummage through a veritable treasure trove of online delights! You can also read my previous review of Trixie Biker here.

Man Man And Friends 1-2
(Banal Pig Comics)

by Gareth Brookes

Each 16-page issue is chock full of Brookes’ rapid fire stick figure comic shorts. Mixing obvious gags with acute observations, the abundance of material ensure that a laugh is only a glance away. I’d be interested to see Brookes’ frequently on-the-ball humour paired with more substantial art but, for now, this is great value (and fun), packed with potential.

Available via the Banal Pig Comics website

Trouble Bruin / Newstreet Bootleg (WaterCooler Comix)
by Matthew Craig

Matthew Craig’s Trouble Bruin benefits from a more reflective approach than his other superhero creation Trixie Biker. There’s a pathos underpinning the occasional but overt humour which, over thirty-four pages, enables the reader to empathise with the characters, particularly father figure Eric ‘Capability’ Brown, aka Blue Ted. Craig’s art is somewhat limited in range and whilst this doesn’t detract from the story, at times it doesn’t quite meet the demands of the script. My only gripe is that there currently isn’t a follow-up story/ issue; having read what is essentially an extended prologue/origin tale, I wanted to see more of the adult Trouble Bruin. Although I think Craig was right to avoid the usual device of using a modern day narrative to frame an origin ‘flashback’, having a subsequent Trouble Bruin tale on sale would have been desirable. Hopefully, the further adventures of Trouble Briun won’t be long in coming. As compensation, limited copies of Trouble Bruin came with a Newstreet twelve page ashcan edition, introducing another of Craig’s superhero creations. There are two four-page shorts contained in this bootleg, the first seeing Newstreet foil a bank robbery. It features Craig’s most accomplished art to date and hopefully points the way forward for his style. The second sees the super-confident Asian Brummie learn a lesson in humility when he encounters Trixie Biker. This crossover strip is not as visually striking as it’s predecessor, but it’s good fun. Judging by the final pages of each story, the character seems to have undergone a last-minute change of name from Street Walker to Newstreet. A wise move. More please!

Both available via Matthew Craig's website

Melanchomic (Glaikit Comics)
by Andrew Waugh

A collection of predominantly single page ‘slice of life’ strips offering wry observations on the trials and tribulations of being a single male. Waugh’s basic style relies heavily on repetition, but is surprisingly emotive given this (self-imposed) constraint. Despite the occasional – and openly confessed – filler, there are plenty of enjoyable strips. Personal favourites are Juicy Fruit, The Fine Art Of Pulling and Women’s Parts. The penultimate page is a house ad for The Guttest Story Ever Told, a peaen to/piss-take of ‘80s movie stars including Steve Guttenberg (obviously), Lou Diamond Phillips and Rick Moranis. Sounds unmissable.

Drop Andrew an e-mail at or visit his MySpace site if you want to find out more.

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Anonymous Matthew Craig said...

Thanks for the kind words, Kieron!

Here's irony: EJN is itself a recycled story, originally written two years ago for a "proper" artist to draw. Providence gives it relevance. azigazig-ah.

(tangent: Wannabee by The Spice Girls is Peter Parker's ringtone. In my head, at any rate.)

I'm thinking of doing a third Trixie book - TRIXIE BIKER AND THE OBVIOUS PITCH - in time for either BICS 2 or, if I can get in, the next Telford Movie/Comic/Card/Kenny Baker Mart.

In an ideal world, I would write book-length adventures for Trixie Biker, starting by fleshing out this one-page origin montage. Once I have a bit more under my belt, I'm going to start pitching.

I'm glad you enjoyed the NewStreet bootleg. It is true that he started off as "StreetWalker" - a name I still love, poking holes in the slight pomposity of some superhero names - but I couldn't quite make it work. It was good to have it there for Trixie to use when busting his chops, though. That said, NewStreet is more appropriate, for a whole mess of reasons. See the upcoming origin story "The Ballad of NewStreet" for more.

The Trixie/NewStreet crossover was drawn at A3 in about a day, and coloured with crayons, old felt tip pens and whatever else I could get my hands on. While Trixie looks a bit, I was really pleased with the (subconscious/unintentional) way that each hero became a sort of thematic foil for the other.

I'm extra specially glad that you've said that you want to see more Bruin - especially since I walked past a lookeylikey in Tescos tonight. Again, this is an ideal scenario, but what I want to do with these Brummie superhero characters (obviously excluding Trixie, who comes from Chester) is write the NewStreet graphic novel. Bruin plays a large part in that story as a whole, and the climax in particular.

Trouble Bruin - the novella - is a sort of "proof of concept" in this regard, inasmuch as many of the main themes are/would be followed up in NewStreet's story. They're all love stories, really.

I'm probably going to do another prequel novella first, though, starring Able Seaman and Fishwife, who previously appeared in these hospital comics. Current tagline: "HIS FIRST LOVE WAS THE SEA"

Fans of Neil Munro are advised to book early.

Thanks again for the kind words, Kieron. I have tried to improve my art with every new project, although it hasn't always come off. I'm a bit better at drawing women than I was, but I still need to work on girlfaces.

I've just finished a manga-adventure version of Hondle which (is pretty demented) should be ready in time for Caption. And I'm just about 1/4-done with a real-world story set in good oul' Manchester, which I'm doing for a university reunion party. I'll probably print a Bootleg version for Caption, and polish it up for BICS 2.

Oh, and I should have a Very Exciting Announcement to make in the near future. Ho yus.

Thanks again!

(also: Glaikit Comics is a brilliant name for...anything!)


4:28 am  
Anonymous andy waugh said...

Thank you for the rather nice review. I'm chuffed that you singled me out (with the others, of course) for particular praise.

Also worth looking at are Gareth Brooke's mate Steve Tillotson who does the Banal Pig comics Jess Bradley's Guide Dog Detective and Gordon Johnston at

All the best,


6:38 pm  
Blogger Khayem said...

Matthew, Thanks for the additional background and update on your current activities. Sounds like you have a busy year ahead, but I'm looking forward to the Very Eciting Announcement...!

6:40 am  
Blogger Khayem said...

Hi Andy,

Nice to hear from you! The Melanchomic review is rather belated as I've had the comic for some time. A review should have appeared in Comics International ages ago, but (fingers crossed) it should emerge in #203, on sale... soon.

Thanks also for the tips. I'm a fan of Guide Dog Detective, having reviewed it both here and in CI (it made my Top 10 of 2006). Oddly enough, I haven't checked out the other Banal Pig stuff yet (but will). Gordon Johnston is a new name to me, so will definitely take a look.

Thanks for dropping by and best wishes for the future.

6:47 am  

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