Review: Throw Your Keys Away – Dan Berry finds his inner beast and other stories….
By Dan Berry
Like the much enjoyed Hey You!, this is an anthology of works, some previously published, some new for this volume. Just like Hey You! it’s full of Berry’s beautiful artwork and inventive storytelling spread amongst four short stories and one delightful picture (I wanted to call it a pin-up, but that’s not really the accurate description for a pic in an A5 comic is it?).
First thing you notice with Throw Your Keys Away is that it’s beautifully made; strong, quality card cover, the spine a wonderful luxuriant extra for a 24-page comic, pages with a lovely heft, art inside pinpoint sharp and wonderfully bright colours throughout. This truly is one of those comics you hold and appreciate for a moment before opening the page to experience the delights inside.
And what delights they are, the title refers to the first, cover-featured story, wherein our author tells of the strange urge he experiences atop any tall object to cast his keys over the edge and wonders aloud, and on the comic page, just what this would lead to. Could this be Berry’s subconscious prodding him in the direction of ‘rugged outdoors caveman survivor’? soon to be followed by the feral hairy beast you see up there on the cover. Perhaps. Or perhaps it’s simply a great storyteller musing aloud.
Berry’s always ready to poke fun at himself, always the one making the ridiculous comments, or making himself look foolish in these short tales, and always in such a way that we come out of it appreciating his self-depreciation and ridiculousness. The ending of Throw Your Keys Away, in typically humorous and silly and quite brilliantly observed Berry style, is observed so well, a daydream given form, the feral beast transformed into something urban and silly and embarrassed. Oh so good, so very good.
Second tale I Am So Beloved By Everybody sees Berry go from nought to ridiculously over the top in a couple of panels and just keeps on keeping on, the ridiculous heaped on top of the ridiculous; competitive jousting, royal weddings, jealous Freddie Mercury holograms. Funny.
Berry’s work is all flight of fancy stuff, extreme positions are taken to perpetuate a story, the poking of fun merely humorous icing on this particularly attractive cake. I Almost Quit Drawing Comics sees him explaining his long-held desire to chuck it all in in favour of repairing shoes and cutting keys. It’s all to do with the smell apparently…
The final piece in here is The Devil’s Steps, a cautionary tale of halloween featuring Berry and the Devil, but we talked lots of that a month back, so we’ll simply say it’s a damn good way to end this wonderful collection. All four stories are great little things, but it’s the art that really sticks with you, because Dan Berry is turning into staggeringly good artist, more than capable of turning his hand to anything he chooses, and more than capable of blowing everyone else out of the way.
Seriously, look at those faces in the panels above, look at the exaggerated yet perfect body language, look carefully.. you can all see bits of Quentin Blake there, right? Maybe some Raymond Briggs as well? High praise I know, but what the hell, Berry’s good for it.
The four strips stand alone, but the unifying factor here is the stamp of quality that Dan Berry brings to things. If you’ve never experienced anything Berry’s done before you’re in for an artistic treat, if you know Berry’s work, you’ve already bought this. Well done, well done you.
The rest of you – go here and spend your money.