Written by Sophie Rickard
Art by Scarlett Rickard
Published by Gluepot Books
Full Colour 164 pages, £14.99
The Story: Terry Mann has a dead-end job, a raft of mounting bills, an annoyingly needy sister and an inordinately large dog called Eric. One day, whilst minding his own business at his office he is called in and suspended for a theft he claims that he did not commit. He gets drunk and stupidly annoyed with Eric and does something he shouldn’t have.
What will come out of this spider’s web of emotions and fraud…
The Review: Occasionally, I stumble across a book that hits a chord. A book that I want to shout about because it deserves a much wider audience. Mann’s Best Friend is one of those books.
I devoured it on a long train journey back from Wimbledon Comics Arts Festival last weekend. It’s not a short read, but I managed to read it without putting it down – a mark of quality in the Esmond household!
I am old now and past (mostly) bloke-ish posturing so I don’t mind saying that I am a softie. I also a big fan of dogs. I have one and he wanders up to me when I get home every single day. I won’t watch movies like Marley and Me because I know I’ll end up a gibbering mess. So when I met Sophie and Scarlet Rickard this weekend and they handed me this book, I was straightaway onboard but as I read it my stomach was in knots. I was shouting at the book, “Don’t do that!” as mistakes are made dealing with said dog…
It’s OK, it all ends up pretty much fine towards the end of the book (kind of) – but it had me worried and invested and emotional and embroiled in this comic. It is genuinely compelling. The quintessentially English small-town characters are written with warmth and skill.
Mann’s Best Friend works as a drama, a mystery and creeps up on you with a love story that is in places platonic and elsewhere romantic. People are people and that is perhaps the highest praise I have for both the writing and the art.
One of my favourite scenes is where a couple are chatting and a phone keeps ringing in front of them on the desk. They don’t want to answer and the panels switch backwards and forwards to them talking and the screen of the phone. ‘Mum’ calls, or Terry’s boss – and so on. This was written with some excellent pacing. It’s easy, to a certain extent, to show a man punching someone or a spaceship crashing or a submarine surfacing but to keep that pace up and make it interesting in a scene just about a phone ringing and the implications of that small moment is really the sign of good writing and art.
Scarlet in the art department feels like an indie comics version of, maybe, Posy Simmonds with some of the more iconic, simple facial features of Scott McCloud. She works well with the intimate personal moments and also weaves in a landscape that you feel familiar with.
A couple of the early pages seemed like she was trying to cram a bit too much into a panel but this soon shakes itself out to some beautiful spreads and a gorgeous double page spread towards the end that I would happily have on my wall at home. Just gorgeous stuff.
Come on Esmond…. stop blubbing….
But seriously. Buy this book. You’ll love it.
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Many thanks for reading.