“What if I’m not a comic?” – A Review of “The Human Beings” Issue One

The Human Beings #1 - Cover by Stuart John McCune

By Stuart (SJ) McCune
Published by Millicent Barnes Comics

This is fully intended to be a non traditional review, since The Human Beings is a book that does not adhere to a world of cliche or even what goes on elsewhere in the comic world. It is freshly original in an intelligent fashion.

Stuart (SJ) McCune spins a complex and dark series of short comics stories into an anthology. A book that deals with different environments, places and times but tied by the interactions of the titular Human Beings (or so we are lead to believe).

As with all of Stuart’s (SJ’s) work it is the words that echo in your brain like secret whisper. At moments stark, at moments highly personal this is a comic drawn on an art canvas but retaining the beauty of the sequential comic we know and love.

The first issue combines the terrifying original images of fantastical worlds and at the turn of the page the furtive games of interaction we call a conversation. It mixes the sharp but hallucinatory reality of a Giallo thriller with some beautifully framed visuals.

The Human Beings #1 - Sample Art

This is also my favourite of SJ’s work from a dialogue point of view. One strip details a conversation between a man and a woman. He paces each panel, each word, each look, each hollow echo with a tension but also with a resonant reality. He plays with our preconceptions with each and every head tilt and crafted short sentence.

Those that overwrite take heed: this is a stripped back interaction that says more with it’s words and visuals in seven pages than some other lesser writers could manage in a whole paperback novel. Each line is a door opening, an explanation of place and time but also a marvellous contradiction of what the reader thought they were following.

The art remains a gorgeous kaleidoscope of colour and line that breaks free of the norm but remains perfectly flowing. Treating story like a complicated vein system that flows to the heart but shoots off in and at unexpected moments.

SJ is a master of the strange. His stories kick you out of that comfortable chair into an unfamiliar landscape. I feel myself standing in a world I am unfamiliar with and completely out of my comfort zone, awaiting a stranger to approach me and whisper into my ear telling of a reality that is mysterious and beautiful. I am never at any point able to predict what will happen. I don’t try to second guess anything (ever) and am gloriously mesmerised by each moment. You can see a love for the medium but he questions each second with a focused unconventional eye – and I wouldn’t have it any other way!

SJ McCune is a creator that I follow and impatiently await the arrival of each new product. I suggest that you challenge yourself and do the same. SJ tells the predictable drivel elsewhere in the comics world to be quiet and leave the building immediately, an adult has arrived!

• Follow SJ on Twitter @StuartMcCune and buy his work at www.millicentbarnescomics.bigcartel.com

I would also highly suggest searching him out on Kickstarter by searching for Stuart John McCune

PS Stay for the last few pages, something may be explained.

Many thanks for reading.

John Freeman

The founder of downthetubes, John describes himself as is a “freelance comics operative”, currently working as a freelance editor for TITAN COMICS, as Creative Consultant on the new DAN DARE audio adventures for B7 Media, and on promotional work for the LAKES INTERNATIONAL COMIC ART FESTIVAL and LANCASTER COMICS DAY.

John has worked in British comics publishing for over 30 years, starting out at Marvel UK, where he edited a number of the Genesis 1992 books with Paul Neary. His numerous credits include editor of titles such as Doctor Who Magazine at Marvel and Star Trek Magazine and Babylon 5 Magazine at Titan Magazines, where he was Managing Editor.

He also edited STRIP Magazine and worked as an editor on several audio comics for ROK Comics, including TEAM M.O.B.I.L.E. and THE BEATLES STORY.

Most recently he is writing CRUCIBLE as a creator-owned project with 2000AD artist Smuzz, published on Tapastic; and DEATH DUTY and SKOW DOGS with Dave Hailwood for the digital comic 100% Biodegradable.

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