Edited by Matthew Sheret
(Cracking way to start – under a great (what else?) Luke Pearson cover)
You may have heard of Paper Science already – I’ve reviewed issue 2 and issue 3 and if you want to see what it’s all about you can still download issues 1 & 2 from the W+P website. Essentially it’s a tabloid sized newspaper full of some very good comic artists from the UK scene, full of colour, bright, fun stuff. In some ways it’s a sister publication to Solipsistic Pop, sharing ideas and values. I’ve talked many times now about the inherent tactile pleasure of just settling down with a newspaper comic but that would be almost immaterial if the quality let it down. So far, with four issues, Paper Science shows absolutely no signs of letting me down.
This time round it’s the Science Fiction Special – 16 pages of tongue in cheek mostly funny sci-fi action, described by Sheret as “aliens, geeks and ray-guns“. There’s not really enough room in here for dark and involved so, with one notable exception, every strip veers towards the lighter side of sci-fi and makes full use of the eye popping colours available.
(Philippa Rice and Luke Pearson combine for Dr. Poplowski – four pages of intense inter-species relationship fun and frolics)
Let’s start off with the three stand-out strips: The first of which sees Philippa Rice write and Luke Pearson draw “Dr. Poplowski’s Special Formula“, a great three pager full of invention, quirky twists, a daft idea and yet another brilliant artistic style from Pearson (or “the sickeningly talented Pearson” as we should all get used to calling him. Probably).
The scientist’s developed a working brain enhancing formula – which he feeds to his lab sloth with unpredictable and silly effects. Stylistically it’s great, fast as it needs to be, with Rice and Pearson playing around with ideas and coming up with a great result. The friendship montage shown above is a clever nod to the sort of ridiculous use of this sort of thing in movies – and it’s just the first – without giving the game away, you’re going to get a Romance Montage, Single Dad Montage and Raised In The Jungle Montage. It’s silly but it’s ever so funny.
(Part 1 of Adam Cadwell’s King Of Things – a new style, a lightness of touch, and a great start to this all-ages tale.)
Second stand-out is Adam Cadwell’s 3-page “The King Of Things & The Shrunken Giant Penny“, the first of four episodes that will anchor Paper Science this year. In this first episode The King Of Things sits and tells us the tale of the time he found himself at the base of Jack’s Beanstalk Shuttle Express.
Just like Rice & Pearson, Cadwell’s making the most of having a full colour newspaper page with big panels bursting with colour. His art style for King Of Things is quite different from his previous work – great fun, wonderfully colourful, very clean and vibrant cartooning – quite delightful.
(You can spot Daniel Merlin Goodbrey’s art from a long way off; stylised and stark, but a great one pager)
Third stand-out: Daniel Merlin Goodbrey’s “When She Sleeps“. This one stands out like a sore thumb amongst the eye-popping full colours of the other strips – a tightly constructed 4×5 grid, all iconic imagery, lots of black, heavy on the text.
As for the story – like much of Goodbrey’s work, it’s deliberately open to question; the revelation of a secret bit of super-tech – the reset key to reality held on a usb stick or merely the lonely meanderings of one man in the cold light of the morning after? Whatever it means is up to you, the reader. But it’s a perfect one-pager for an anthology.
Now onto the rest…. although I have to make it clear that these aren’t necessarily bad, far from it. Just that the three from Rice/Pearson, Cadwell and Goodbrey are so very, very good.
(Dan Berry teases us with a Swift Vs Kafka slugfest)
According to Matt Sheret’s introduction Dan Berry contributed his strip for a completely different issue, but a meeting of Jonathan Swift and Franz Kafka does lend itself to ridiculous sci-fi. Another fun single page.
Now, Timothy Winchester’s stuff doesn’t necessarily do that much for me to be honest – but hey, it’s only my opinion and what he does here is fun enough. And John Allison’s centre page pin up “Winners Read Science Fiction“, is nice, just right for framing, but a strip would have been far, far preferable, a pin up in a 16-page comic seems just a touch greedy and wasteful.
Joe List’s one page of “Moon Facts” is big, bold and stupid – but good, funny stupid. And the issue is rounded out by a great back page by Andrew Waugh – “The End Of The World“, where monsters and aliens have made their way to Earth for a big, big fight.
(Left – Joe List, Right – Andrew Waugh. Details from both gentlemen’s strips)
Paper Science continues to be something very special indeed. The joy of the newspaper format is still fresh and enjoyable, but what really makes it so good is the sheer quality that Sheret assembles every issue. We’re promised 4 issues of Paper Science this year. 16 pages for £3 may seem a little steep, but in all honesty, given the enjoyment (almost) every page provides, it’s cracking value.