REVIEW: Beast OGN

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Marian Churchland’s new Image OGN is small but perfectly formed.

…And that could be the review. No, really- given my usual peccadillo for rambling, I really think this book can, and perhaps should, speak for itself. There’s something delightfully uncomplicated about the whole thing. I could sum up its whole storyline here in two lines. A young artist is offered a job by– And you’d understand exactly what it was about, but not much of what it was about.

At its heart, Beast is both indie-as-can-be slice of life and classic genre story. The two meet and touch, but its not a mash-up in the way, say, Jamie McKelvie’s urban fairytale Suburban Glamour is.The story moves along leisurely, letting the actions of Colette, our protagonist, set the pace.

The uncomplicated approach stretches across the whole book. Dialogue realistic yet unadorned and somehow sparse- a world away from Bendisspeak. The art is beautiful but hardly there: sketchy pencils and a wash that changes tone from grey to sepia between scenes, reminiscent of Brian Wood and Becky Cloonan’s work in Demo, but softer. There’s something in that comparison, actually; everything is understated, yet the story, examined closely, is as fantastical as anything the medium has to offer- the same way Demo mixed superheroics with small personal stories.

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It’s as well-designed and attractive a package as Demo, too, with chapter breaks made of thickening or lightening scribbles- which express the story as well as that hypothetical two-line synopsis ever could.

Meta-texually, there’s a clear, and interesting, line of autobiography that can be drawn between this Colette, the artist still discovering herself, and the author, Marian Churchland, a new(ish) unproved(ish) talent in the comics world, having worked on three issues of Elephantmen (which, as Warren Ellis characteristically perceptively put it, “blew everyone’s shit away”.) Ellis has also marked her out as “going to be a huge fucking deal within two or three years.”

But it’s easy to read too much about this book.
It is, I suspect, harder to read the book too much. So go and do that. Please.

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