Tuesday, 20 April 2010

Surviving the Comics Drought: 45

As I mentioned earlier, there's a Comics Drought on. Survival instincts are kicking in and, lest our brains melt and we forget how to read, it's time to start digging into that to-read list. We Keepers of the Bright-ish Nerd Flame have to show Mother Nature that the titanic and ancient forces of geology aren't enough to keep us from comics! Comics are a big deal, guys. Anyway, another recommendation follows. Up today is another one from my Leeds Guide columns - Andi Ewington's 45. Here it is:

In a comics marketplace that has grown comfortable with the tried and tested capes and tights formula, it's increasingly rare to come across a superhero title that does something (dare we say it?) new. It comes as something as a surprise, therefore, to find Andi Ewington positively belching forth fresh air with 45 (Com.x, £11.99)

Not strictly speaking a graphic novel, 45 is a collection of interviews with super-humans (Super-S, for 45's purposes) conducted by an almost-absent protagonist, journalist James Stanley. The birth of his child is creeping closer and, unsure of whether it will be born Super-S, he sets out to discover what it means to live your life as a superman.

Each interview comes with a full-page illustration by a different artist from a line-up that reads like a who's-who of British comics – Trevor Hairsine, Sean Phillips and Frazer Irving are just a few of the big names lending their pencil to the project. The interviews are by turns funny, thrilling, thoughtful and tragic. The beauty of 45 is that all of them – despite the 'super' nature of their subjects – are brimming with humanity.

While these snapshots of supermen would be satisfying on their own, taken together they form an intriguing larger narrative – one that illuminates both a father already in love with his child and shadowy forces at work in the wider world. If you put 'man' before 'super' there's a lot to enjoy here.

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