Written by Rob Burton
Art by A Klassen
Published by Mindstain
This is an unusual comic to pick up in today’s small-press comics arena. For one, this comic is not wall to wall illustration. For two, this comic forces you to think from word one. The title immediately challenges the reader and it takes a while before it can be understood to be an apt and logical title.
As I have already said, this is not fully illustrated. Instead you have a page of prose which is a letter involving our main protagonist, Clara Cooper, who is the third daughter of a woman who has lost her first child in a society that is constrained in family size to two children in a similar fashion to the way that the population in China is controlled. Privacy is at a premium and paper is almost non-existent, so the margins of each letter is annotated with the thoughts that Clara cannot have recorded through any other medium.
The reverse of each letter is a comic-style narrative that any of us would recognise illustrating the life that Clara endures. And how she rebels by conforming to the socially acceptable type expected by society. And believe me, there is much more to this comic than this review indicates, but I found that I was surprised by the twists and turns of the story and I would not want to rob any new reader of those revelations as you encounter them throughout the story.
Rob Burton has created an adult comic. Not one of those comics that is hidden in case it offends. It is an adult comic that deals with adult themes. Suicide, rebellion, revolution, the need to conform, the need to hide one’s true identity, society treating impoverished members as disposable people. It is dark and looks squarely at how our society seems to be becoming a world that is run for the benefit of a few large multinational corporations to make a profit out of providing the most basic of services. But, the ending is surprisingly uplifting and this reviewer certainly did not see it coming.
It is also difficult to read this comic and not be starkly reminded of George Orwell’s 1984. But this is not a fantastic reimagining of Big Brother. This is our current society taken further down the road that currently appears to be paved with good intentions. This is a future where the line between government and big business is not so much blurred as erased.
The artist Klassen is not one that I am familiar with. Their style does not strike me as someone who is naturally a comics artist, but for this comic, the style adopted for this comic perfectly complements the story. I say adopted as I cannot find any other examples of their work online, so I assume that they used this style for CC3 deliberately.
I also like the fact that the prose pages harkens back to the story papers of the past and it allows an engagement for those fans of the story papers that not all comics encourage.
In the space of less than a month, I have read two small press comics that would not have been out of place in Crisis or Deadline. And it continues to destroy the myth that there is no British comic scene.
• To see more of their comics, you can find Mindstain on their website, a comics co-operative set up in 2013 by Sarah Peploe, Rob and George Joy to make, publish and promote their comics. Mindstain is always on the lookout for artists and collaborators so if you are interested in joining the Mindstain project, get in touch
• Follow Mindstain on twitter @MindstainComics