In Review: Punks Not Dead #1

Punks Not Dead #1 Cover A by Martin Simmonds

Written by David M Barnett
Art by Martin Simmonds
Colour Flats by Dee Cunniffee
Cover A by Martin Simmonds
Cover B by Bill Sienkiewicz
Letters by Aditya Bidikar
Published by Black Crown and IDW

Advance warning: a smattering of adult content ahead, reflecting the mature nature of this title!

The Story: The book opens on floppy red headed Feargal Ferguson. He’s a bit of a skinny and weedy kid. He’s in the school playground and is squaring up to fight a big lump of a teenager. The kids have formed the classic circle and are chanting ‘Fight! Fight! Fight!’

Punks Not Dead #1 - Fight Scene

We then flash back some weeks and discover that Feargal and his mum have faked a back story of sadness and abuse to get on a TV Chat Show. The over preened host gawks and narrates to the camera as the pair have a surprisingly off script mum/son moment.

After being paid, the pair head to Heathrow airport and stop to examine the tawdry supermarket magazines that they are featured on the cover. Feargal heads to the toilets and bumps into the ghost of ‘Sid’ a man so similar in appearance and attitude to Sid Vicious that it might make you pause and wonder if they are one and the same. (Insert “hmmmm” noise).

Sid is talking to strangers and insulting the size of their knobs. Feargal realises that he is the only one who can see Sid and the pair begin something that might be described as an adventure.

Meanwhile, there are strange goings on at Number 10 with the appearance of the Grande Dame of Modery one Dorothy Culpepper. She’s vamping it up looking like a septuagenarian Mary Quant model! She’s also an agent for an obscure MI5 Unit called ‘The Department for Extra Usual Affairs’. She’s busy catching a demon rat and stealing an expensive pair of leather trousers.

Sooooooo. The stage is now set for a crazy punk rock supernatural adventure…

Punks Not Dead #1 Cover B by Bill Sienkiewicz

The Review: You hear good things about something and then it turns up and meets those rumours. Rare, huh?

It happened to me when I read Punks Not Dead on an early morning commute train station, in bucket loads. Straight out of the gate from cover to columns and all the in between, I loved this!

I’ve known and enjoyed Martin Simmonds art for quite a while. Thoughtful, experimental, beautiful even. But given the reins here in Punks not Dead, you can see a talent that is about to get wider recognition. I sense in the sweep of the attitude in his pages and the way that he is already throwing you over his shoulder and artistically tumbling you through this world, that this is just the beginning. I had a chat with editor Shelly Bond at a comic shop event last year and she hinted with enthusiasm at the imminent (Black) Crowning of the next hot thing! I gotta tell ya, she ain’t wrong!

Punks Not Dead #1 - Sid

Punks Not Dead #1 - Sid

I sense that Black Crown, Shelly Bond and David Barnet, Marin Simmonds and their gang are about to unleash a beast on us… one that is standing proudly with a sneer in their punk Doc Martins! I haven’t been so excited after a first issue for ages. It’s like we got the sneer of Deadline and Kill Your Boyfriend alongside the experimental visuals of The Books of Magic and Hellblazer.

Punks Not Dead #1 - SampleI can imagine the fun that David M. Barnett is having as he writes. It whirls about like a funky late 1960s spy movie and also has a load of heart. You see the musical influences, but sense that this is about a kid who is lost and looking for meaning. Very nicely done dialogue bumps about on the page and he gives the artist and the colourist (Dee Cunniffee, who deserves a bigger credit than they are getting in some reviews I’ve read) the right moments to shine. Just have a look at the last few pages of the book to see some brilliantly paced and gorgeous visuals.

But don’t confuse my 1990s amphetamine ramblings for a selfish nostalgic time slip. This is relevant to the world that these characters live within and is just as set in the now (more so, even) as anything else you’ll see on the shelves.

I added this to my pull list after hearing about the series at the New York Comic Con last year and I initially got the Bill Sienkiewicz cover. I headed back to London’s Orbital Comics to complete the set with Martin’s version of the cover to Issue One.

Punks not Dead #1 is available now from all good comic shops and various digital platforms

• Find David M. Barnett at www.davidmbarnett.com and follow him on Twitter @davidmbarnett

• Find out more Martin Simmonds at www.simmonds-illustration.com and follow him on Twitter @Martin_Simmonds

• Find out more about Dee Cunniffee, the colourist of this beauty at www.deesaturate.blogspot.com or follow their technicolour Twitter @deezoid

• Look for more books by Black Crown at www.blackcrown.pub and follow them on Twitter @blackcrownhq

Many thanks for reading.

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Antony Esmond

Antony Esmond is a comic reviewer and writer - his hips don't lie.



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