A good few months ago now I went to a fantabulous launch event at the everglorious Orbital Comics in London for independent publishers Avery Hill. Their books are uniformly beautiful and the event was as enjoyable as it was incredibly bloody warm. I managed to chinwag with the Avery Hill bosshogs David White & Ricky Miller and even the printer of the books Richard Hardiman who’d come down especially and was as deeply enthusiastic as the creators and publishers themselves. It was a positive shindig and the earnest energy of these new indie publishers shone brightly and was deeply inspiring – below are a selection of some of their most recent books that I’ve managed to take a gander through:
Days (Simon Moreton)
This is a collection of recent archived material from perennial beardyman and Bristolian friendly-face Simon Moreton. I’d encountered his “Smoo” comics before and found his sparse storytelling incredibly compelling – in this handsome volume there’s a great deal of his scattered dreamy narratives, that so brilliantly capture the fleeting melancholy of half-memories. His style is captivating here drifting between almost abstract shapes – objects or moments whittled down to their most immediate forms – to the stunningly detailed. Issue 5 of Smoo which concerns itself with his days studying in Falmouth is easily the highlight of the volume for me. Capturing a period of his life where he was clearly in deep transition – the variety of this segment, from the contemplative to the hilarious, is irresistible and highlights the appeal of Moreton as a creator for me. Whatever the mood – whatever the form – his singular presence is vividly there. He has lived every line.
The Beginner’s Guide to Being Outside (Gill Hatcher)
The stunningly beautiful cover is what drew me to this lovely landscape volume which is ostensibly a tale of a family holiday to Scotland – and although Hatcher’s simplistic art inside doesn’t quite ever reach the giddy heights of the cover the pacing is excellent and the design strong throughout. It’s a deceptively straightforward story that manages to say something meaningful in an admirably short amount of time.
Reads Vol.2 #1 (Edited by Ricky Miller)
I’m a sucker for an anthology – and this first issue of Avery Hill’s four-part four-story comic “Reads” fits my requirements for a good variety comic perfectly. There’s a great amount of diversity within, every story has something going for it and it acts as an excellent showcase for some of the creators in the Avery Hill canon.
The first story in the issue is a fiction set in the shimmering silver era of comics – it’s simple but effective showing the birth of a new comic from the stressed coffee-stained desks of two passionate 50s creators. The art by Tim Bird is starkly black and white and compellingly simple – the wordcount requires Bird to be slightly busier than in his relatively scenic “Grey Area” series but he functions perfectly well in both.
“The Megatherium Club: Skeleton Crew” (Owen D. Pomery)
Pomery’s Megatherium Club is possibly my favourite thing in the issue telling a tale of feuding 19th century paleontologists – his art is a sort of wonky attempt to replicate stiff lithograph imagery and alone is not particularly remarkable but the mix of Victorian stiffness and modern bluntness in the dialogue is disarmingly silly. Avery Hill also do a physical collection of this which I’m hugely tempted by.
“Hitchcock & Film” (Ricky Miller & Tim Bird)
Usually I’d decry a repeated creator in an anthology but the tone here is very different. It’s more of a graphic exploration of the history of motion pictures guided by Alfred Hitchcock. I’m a big fan of these hyper-informative essay-comics (particularly Bryan Talbot’s Alice in Sunderland) and the Hitchcock-lens through which we view it helps it from becoming stale.
“The Story of Lucius Jellybean” (EdieOP)
EdieOP’s dark little tale of a sweet needy mutant virus is a deliriously dark closer and actually genuinely unsettling. The sketchy physical watercolour-pencil-crayon art is nicely physical and as a story it’s a nice punctuation point for the issue. (Avery Hill are releasing Maleficium by Edie this week)
Avery Hill is that rarest of ventures – a passionate ziney indie-ish type affair that publishes beautifully-printed and consistently good work. In that gloriously humid comic shop the other month I saw a young company whose love for comics was almost palpable and I anticipate every new release with a growing frothing furvour. Speaking of – I did run by them at the Bristol Comic & Zine Fair last month and saw them hawking a most lovely looking book named “A Quiet Disaster” by animator Alex Potts…. WALLET I SUMMON THEE.
Avery Hill Publishing – http://www.averyhillpublishing.com