The Book: “Three short stories about loneliness, technology, regret and human connection. Will hopefully make you both laugh and cry, possibly even at the same time...”
The Review: Debuting at this year’s Thought Bubble, Joe Stone describes his new comic, Neurotic Fiction, as “sort of three short stories, sort of one big story… sort of a comedy sort of a tragedy. Hopefully it’s at least sort of good!”
I can safely report it is rather more than sort of good, delivering a comic with adult themes that’s both very funny and poignant, too, holding up an entertaining light on relationships real, imagined and… robotic.
Beautifully drawn and paced, Neurotic Fiction opens with the story of a man who finds his “adult sex toy” a lot more than he bargained for. I don’t want to spoil the fun, but suffice to say things don’t go as expected.
This entertaining tale segues seamlessly into a “fourth wall” style story, as we meet the delivery man who delivered the sex toy, haunted by the past in a rather physical manner.
Joe skilfully makes the most of a running gag involving what I’d describe as a rogue daydream, and as with the first “arc”, while funny, is also very heartrending.
Finally, the book warps with a dinner date that isn’t a date, between two friends, and brings the theme of idealised love into sharp focus with consummate skill.
I very much enjoyed Neurotic Fiction. Examining relationships (and lack of them) in a very left field kind of way, Joe has created given us both an entertaining comic, and a thought-provoking tale too, of both love and isolation. There’s a tenderness to Joe’s storytelling that might perhaps not come across in a review, or even the sample pages I selected to try to offer some hint of the book. At this time of fragile lives, it’s very much appreciated.
Do look out for this Neurotic Fiction when it debuts on the weekend of Thought Bubble (14th – 15th November 2020), over on Joe’s web shop.
Joe Stone is a freelance graphic designer based in London, with 10 years of experience across multiple design disciplines. His work has been previously featured on It’s Nice That, Mashable, The Huffington Post, Shortlist and more. Outside of design he also makes and self-publishes comic books.
Joe also organises WIP Comics, a meetup group where anyone who is interested in making comics is welcome to join and discuss their work, give and receive feedback on their ideas, and generally chat about the craft of creating comics.
Every year, they also make a group anthology, and this year it’s been split into two books: Success and Failure. The result is a combined total of 29 smashing short comics by 31 creators across 108 pages, divided between the two titular themes.
The contributors are a mix of more established names on the small press scene, newer creators starting to make a name for themselves, and total beginners for whom this is their first time in print. Both books are available now from wipcomics.co.uk and well worth your attention.
The founder of downthetubes, which he established in 1998. John works as a comics and magazine editor, writer, and on promotional work for the Lakes International Comic Art Festival. He is currently editor of Star Trek Explorer, published by Titan – his third tour of duty on the title originally titled Star Trek Magazine.
Working in British comics publishing since the 1980s, his credits include editor of titles such as Doctor Who Magazine, Babylon 5 Magazine, and more. He also edited the comics anthology STRIP Magazine and edited several audio comics for ROK Comics. He has also edited several comic collections, including volumes of “Charley’s War” and “Dan Dare”.
He’s the writer of “Pilgrim: Secrets and Lies” for B7 Comics; “Crucible”, a creator-owned project with 2000AD artist Smuzz; and “Death Duty” and “Skow Dogs” with Dave Hailwood.