Sunday, May 03, 2009

Propaganda Reviews: Newthink Books

Newthink Books

by Thomas Plaskitt


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(The New Think package that came through the post - comics, mini-comics and more)

Thomas Plaskitt’s comics are incredible little things, more a complete multimedia art experience than anything else yet so beautifully made and inventive to make the reading of them an absolute joy, as they look at life, death, self discovery and do it with a delicious sense of gentle satirical humour.

It’s also the very physical nature of them, the little touches of design and content that make the whole thing so enjoyable. Although I imagine some folks may look at them in the same way my wife looks at some Modern Art, with a sneer and a “call that art” comment. Likewise some will look at these and immediately write them off as “not comics”. But they are. They just don’t fall into the narrow definition of comics that we still seem constrained by.

I’ve even modified the way I do these reviews for these; usually I scan covers and art, but the flat scans seemed too flat and lifeless to convey the work properly. So I got the camera out and photographed them as three dimensional objects and it worked so much better. They’re actually more than comics rather than “not comics”.

These Newthink comics come packed with a host of extras; handmade little treats, the cut out and keep bits, the CD-ROM to be played in tandem with reading the comics, the mini-comics inside envelopes taped onto the pages of the bigger comics, the instructional booklets. Even the little touch of sealing his comics with a mini bulldog clip; it seems that Thomas Plaskitt is trying very hard to make his work a mix of comics and object d’art.


The two comics in the package; The Meaning Of Life and A Short Story Part One: Realisation are both lovingly hand made comics, with simple card covers and quality interiors that mix card and paper, different textures, different colours; anything and everything to make each comic something a little special.

Meaning Of Life is the more satisfying of the two on first reading; a look at Plaskitt’s fictional Meaningland, “a slightly dark symbolic fictional area just outside of your conscious, each character an aspect of the modern world, enter at your own risk…” populated with minimalist blocky figures. You work through to your life destination, finding various pithy meaning of life statements and meeting various characters along the way, characters representing aspects in your life that hold you back; media time wasting, money, work, houses, governance and more.

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(Pages from Plaskitt’s Meaning Of Life on the left and A Short Story part One on the right)

But A Short Story - Part One; Realisation really takes Plaskitt’s immersive experience to another level, the story makes full use of the included CD-ROM to compliment the story of a man lost in a strange world of strange things, that he needs to explore and make sense of, whilst also making sense of himself. And these themes of change and self-discovery run through all of Plaskitt’s work, including his 10 Commandments mini-mini comics, 3 inches square or thereabouts, which function in some small way to provide a road map to his comic work; that sense of changing yourself to change the world.

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(More from Plaskitt’s A Short Story, with the mini-mini comic taped onto the page on the left and his even smaller The Ten Commandments on the right.)

In addition to these marvelous little art comics, Thomas Plaskitt’s New Think website is well worth a visit to see the sorts of multimedia delights he’s showcasing in his work. Because even though he says he has no answers in A Short Story Part One (see below), he does have something better; comics that make you think about life, art and the self whilst providing a thoroughly entertaining immersive experience:


(But sometimes it’s the act of asking the question that is the important thing - something Thomas Plaskitt does so very well.)

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