Issue 32 of the weekly comic of choice at Bruton mansions: the DFC
A little bit scary on the cover - Molly certainly thought so. The cover feature is the return of Mezolith; a strip which I'd venture appeals a lot more to the older readers of the DFC. By which I mean older readers like me and all the other parents reading the comic. Mezolith is a cracking story, beautifully illustrated by Adam Brockbank (so beautifully illustrated that at the time of writing this his website is showing that bandwidth exceeded message - a sure sign of sudden interest). But it's the storytelling that really impresses me. Ben Haggarty is a performance storyteller, going through his comics and literally acting them out beforehand to give his artists the feel of what he's trying to do. His stories (Mezolith and the great Will Scoggin's Skull) are stories withing stories. A set up invariably leads to some character sitting down and telling a tale about some aspect of the stone age life of Mezolith. It works very, very well. Pacing is slow, but unnoticeably so and each story builds nicely towards the climax.
Unlike (and here I go again) John Blake by Phillip Pullman. Another week, another three pages of nothing. At one point in this weeks three pages the heroine thinks "Oh, Boy! I'm only ever going to get this story in bits and pieces!" Exactly my thinking. Unfortunately Pullman just doesn't do enough to make me care one bit about what's going on here and the glacial story has become an annoyance, taking up three pages that could easily be filled by something better. I feel rather sorry for John Aggs, the very talented artist of the strip. It's a waste to see great art on a plodding story.
Okay, onto the rest of the comic. Molly loved her usual stuff; Sausage & Carrots by Simone Lia, Vern & Lettuce by Sarah McIntyre
Quick aside; Sarah was kind enough to do a best of year over at the FPI blog - go look for some fantastic illustrations of her choices of which Monkey Journey To The West was one - kindly posed by Vern & Lettuce:
Fish Head Steve made a welcome return, with the ninja story tickling Molly's funny bone nicely - boy with cow on his head dressed in full ninja gear - that's funny.
But overall this issue was more for me than Molly, with the weighting of older strips greater than it's been for some time: Mezolith, John Blake, the wonderful Luther Arkwright meets Hellblazer stylings of Mirabilis and Frontier all made the comic a far older affair this time round.
But that's one of the things about the DFC; variety. Marvellous, wonderful variety. You can't like everything in there. But you're not meant to. It's still a great thing to have land on the mat every Friday, so go ahead and subscribe already.