Created by Steve Tillotson
Published by Avery Hill Publishing
132 pages – Full Colour – £12.99
The Story: On this particular morning in this particular place, Untitled Ape (a giant purple ghost-beast) has decided he needs to see his family. His friend Cat (a cat) doesn’t think it’s a particularly good idea, but at this very moment a massive storm rolls in, and their epic adventure begins.
Without a map or much of a plan, they journey through flooded cities and stormy seas, across frozen plains and snowy mountains, and even up into the world of the clouds on their quest to find Ape’s home in the jungle. Along the way they make the acquaintance of a cast of incredible characters, who both help and hinder them to equal degree.
Meanwhile and elsewhere, Ape’s past is starting to catch up with him, and it becomes more and more difficult to keep his dark past from Cat…
What happened to Ape? Why doesn’t he have a name? And can he resist the pressure to return to his old life and make sure his friends and family are safe? These are the questions that Jonathan Cape/Observer Graphic Short Story Prize Runner-Up Steven Tillotson wrestles with and ultimately answers in his long-awaited saga of trial, tribulation, and friendship.
The Preview: Just when you think that Avery Hill are taking a much-needed month away, they hit you with three books in quick succession. The first that I got to read was this preview copy of Steve Tillotson’s Untitled Ape’s Epic Adventure.
It’s great to see Mr Tillotson, who we last saw collaborate with “The Hill” on The Manly Boys and Comely Girls Annuals, back with something new. Steve Tillotson is genuinely an original voice in the sea of indie and small press comics and I’ve been a fan of his work for over a decade now. This is a step up once again in quality for this writer/artist.
Untitled Ape’s Epic Adventure is a book of complete and utter strangeness. The art, in terms of style, could come from any decade; the designs look like they were created in a mushroom– induced 1968 psychosis and the story has a charm and freshness that has you both pleasantly puzzled and at moments smiling broadly.
If I was to pick this book up off a table and comment to the creator at a convention I might be so brave to say “This is brilliantly bonkers!” (and then buy it, obviously). It almost reminded me of a subversive Rupert the Bear Annual – which can only be a good thing!
The book is presented in a landscape format with rich watercolour pages and some of the best line work I have seen from Steve. The voices of the characters are strange, otherworldly and funny. Comments like “Anyway, do me a favour and help me get my fags out of this tree will you?’ are fired out of the pages to add to the anarchic flavour of the situation. It is full of baffling, bizarre and superbly rendered creatures and layouts. Steve makes great use of the format and often splits and rotates panels to provide really interesting artistic choices and results.
I got sent the first chapter of this book and had a chat to Steve, who tells me it will be getting a release at the Thought Bubble Festival in Leeds over the weekend of the 4th – 6th of November this year. It will end up being 132 pages – all in full colour – and Steve tells me that if it gets the right reaction he might do a sequel.
Find out more about the Thought Bubble Comic Art Festival at their website here
Keep your eyes out for previews of the other upcoming books on here soon.
Many thanks for reading.