We’ve already blogged about this here and Joe reviewed it back in December 2013, but I did want to chip in with my tuppence worth….
Time To Shine is a publication from Scottish comics team Metaphrog, working in conjunction with Creative Scotland to explore and encourage creativity in all forms amongst younger people. Womnderful idea, much needed in these days where Gove and those in power seem to believe that education’s only real use is to create willing little workers, as they shrug their shoulders in these austere times and ask us why the arts are even important in schools today, but what they either fail to see or refuse to recognise is that the arts are hugely important to schools, to society at large, and especially to young people. Maybe not so easily quantifiable but no less important as sciences or maths, the arts can cover so much, fill so many children with joy and inspire learning in all forms and subjects.
So Time To Shine certainly has a profound and important message, and it’s all delivered extremely well, with Metaphrog utilising a very clean, Westernised Manga style, immediately recognisable, appealing to the audience, easy to read and understand.
The immediate thought I had upon seeing it, and one echoed by Molly later, was that it felt similar to Raina Telgemeier’s Drama, both books exploring the fostering of creativity and how artistic inspiration is so life-changing to children.
We’re following the trials and tribulations of a fairly ordinary secondary school, Greenvale High, where the staff and pupils all vary wildly in both their artistic abilities and interest in the arts in general. Mainly we focus on Sam and his family and what the arts may mean to them. Sam is 14 and plays trumpet, sort of, but it’s sister Jen who really has the talent, and her band may be headed for the big time, all thanks to the eager new art teacher who sets up “Greenvale’s Got Talent“.
There’s a period of getting to know the main cast and what they’re going to bring to the story artistically, meeting Sam, Jen, their ballet dancing little sister, Tom the violin playing friend, Laura the potential girlfriend who’s not artistic (she thinks) but likes to write, the incapable of expressing his artistic side Declan who takes it out on others as the school bully. And it’s here that the central flaw of Time To Shine becomes obvious. It’s ever so good, it really is, but the brevity of the piece (Time To Shine is a mere 58 story pages long), combined with the necessity to get over the message for Creative Scotland means that it feels, at times, a little truncated, relying on a standard set of characters to deliver the storyline, and feeling at times just that little bit clichéd.
Thing is, that was always going to an issue with something so short with such a wide remit, so to pull it up on that seems slightly unfair, but aside from this easily overlooked flaw, the book is a great little read, fast, artistically solid, and very importantly, delivering a very positive message to the intended readership.
I’ll end with one of the things I really enjoyed seeing throughout Time To Shine, Metaphrog’s simple and very expressive artwork and the way they incorporate the music into the artwork, and how caught up in the artistic bliss and performance the players are….
Pleasingly, this is being freely distributed to schools in Scotland and is available online for free here.