Solipsistic Pop returns for a second beautiful volume, but……
by Adam Cadwell, Anna Saunders, Anne Holiday, Becky Barnicoat, Daniel Locke, Jack Noel, Joe Decie, Julia Scheele, Kristyna Baczynski, Lizz Lunney, Luke Pearson, Marc Ellerby, Mark Oliver, Matilda Tristram, Matthew Sheret, Octavia Raitt, Philippa Johnson, Sally Hancox, Stephen Collins, Tom Humberstone
Edited by Tom Humberstone
We’re in the realms of the difficult second album here. I don’t know whether it’s my own sense of heightened expectation or simply the incredible quality and freshness of the first volume (review right here) but either way I found myself slightly (and only slightly I hasten to add) disappointed by this one.
Just as in volume 1, we get a main book and an A4 newspaper style “funnies” section. This time around, there’s also a rather attractively designed Sol Pop tote bag to go with the package. In comparison to most other anthology volumes, Solipsistic Pop Volume 2 is still head and shoulders above the competition. And the presentation and design is still a beautiful thing.
But as I read through I found myself thinking that a few too many of the strips fall slightly short; not saying enough, a little too much insubtantiality – there are perhaps too many strips that look lovely, but don’t really have that much to say. Even the artist responsible for the best strips in Solipsistic Pop 1 – Stephen Collins – comes up a touch short here, and his “Jumble” strip, although beautifully drawn, seems a little, well, insubstantial to me.
(Luke Pearson’s Ghost, a great cartooning style, marvellous body language and a solid little story)
But enough of these quibbles, I’d rather concentrate on the good and the great in the main Solipsistic Pop book – of which there are many. Picking a few favourites: Anna Saunders “The River” is lovely, a simple single page poem. Luke Pearson’s “Ghosts” is very pretty and light, but most importantly a nicely complete story and Sally Hancox’s “Brooks And Streams” is a tight, concise 4 page lament to an idyllic village destroyed and flooded in the building of a new dam.
Special mention has to go to Octavia Raitt’s “Kept“, a story of confusion and confinement that I took to be about a dementia patient and the world they find themselves in (but could, just as easily be about any sufferer in care right now). I’m right in the middle of that scenario right now in my life with my own mother, so the strip hit home in a very personal way.
(Octavia Raitt’s “Kept” strip – a carefully constructed and touching tale of being in care)
The Funnies A4 supplement has a host of cracking strips; Julia Scheele’s “Middle Of The Storm” day in the life page is beautiful and rather touching, Joe Decie’s flight of fancy “Google Walks” is fun and light and there’s another Anna Saunders poem – longer this time but just as enjoyable.
Editor Tom Humberstone is on top form on a story written by Anne Holiday, with a more open and bright artistic style than he usually uses, and it’s gorgeous:
(Xena Warrior Cat by Anne Holiday, with lovely art by Tom Humberstone)
Old favourites here at the FPI blog do very well here; Adam Cadwell’s “The Tears Of Tommy Cooper” and Lizz Lunney’s double entry of “Depressed Cat” and “Sour Rabbit & Crispy Duck” are enjoyable, as lovely as ever, no surprises there.
The absolute highlight of the volume was Marc Ellerby’s Chloe Noonan in “Art Star“. You may already know I’m a big fan of Ellerby’s work and loved the first two issues of Chloe Noonan (see here), but this is something of a departure for his monster hunting teen character – since the actual monster hunting takes place, wonderfully, cleverly and ridiculously, as an aside on the final panel. Up until this point it was all about 2 teen girls on a night out having a horrible time amongst the art gallery types at a “private view slash book launch” – all rendered in Ellerby’s lovely line with added blue tones giving it a stylish and fresh look. Funny as all hell as well:
(Marc Ellerby’s Chloe Noonan finds herself in art snob hell – complete with laugh out loud funny last couple of panels.)
I don’t mean to be overly harsh on Solipsistic Pop, it’s still an incredible collection of comic art from some excellent artists, but I can’t shake the feeling that this is just a little off the brilliance of volume 1, and that’s a terrible shame.
But such was the quality of volume 1 that, even if volume 2 is slightly off the pace it’s still absolutely head and shoulders above so much of what’s available. All I hope is that volume 3, due later in the year, recaptures some of the wonder and freshness I found myself falling for with volume 1. Fingers crossed that in 6 months time I’m reviewing that with all the glowing praise I lavished on the first volume.