The Phoenix Weekly Story Comic, quality children’s entertainment dropping through the letterbox every week. Luckily my child lets me read it as well.
Cover comes from Simon Swift’s Zak Simmonds-Hurn and it’s a nice tip of the hat to the brilliant Sumit Of The Gods (Volume 4 of which I’m currently reviewing – short version – genius). But the actual Simon Swift strip just doesn’t do much for me at all, a fairly pedestrian fantasty adventure.
Elsewhere in the issue, we have delights from the usual suspects; John and Patrice Aggs lead off with another thrilling episode of Zara’s Masterpiece, where Zara and the gang are finding there’s very few places to escape a gang of thieves with guns on the Eurostar. Meanwhile Jamie Smart’s Bunny Vs Monkey is all about the silliness as usual, thisweek we’re seeing more of those monkey searching scientist chappies from before. And a Bananooka. You need to see the Bananooka.
(Zara’s Masterpiece – John and Patrice Aggs)
(Bunny Vs Monkey – Jamie Smart)
No Corpse Talk this time round, but you do get a standalone story with a (slightly) historical bent; Mummy’s Boy from Daniel Hartwell and Karen Rubins features Egyptian Prince Rametep waking up in a strange place full of strange folks doing strange things. A simple little tale, but one done very well, just like the second part of Adam Murphy’s Strong Wind and Little Scars, where the Mi’kmaq fairytale comes to a predictable but sweet and well crafted conclusion.
(Mummy’s Boy – Daniel Hartwell & Karen Rubins)
(Strong Wind and Little Scars – Adam Murphy)
And that’s the strips proper done, but I whipped through them deliberately fast so I could concentrate on the bits of The Phoenix I rarely talk about, as I’m too busy concentrating on the comics for weekly review. But the important thing about this particular comic is that it’s really trying to be the whole ad-free package, with a strong and fun editorial line running throughout and several pages of sort-of but not quite comics to give depth and variety. It’s something I don’t often comment on, but looking at how Molly reads the comic, and chatting to some of the children at school who read The Phoenix (mine get donated once we’ve read them), everyone seems to get a lot of enjoyment from the various in-between pages.
There’s the ever-present Dangerous Adventures Of Von Doogan by Lorenzo Etherington, ending each issue with a little bit of comics and a little bit of devilish puzzling. Then there’s Neill Cameron, whose How To Draw Awesome Comics is consistently entertaining, simply and effectively laying out some easy to do comic creating tips – this week it’s slightly different – it’s How To WRITE Awesome Comics.
(The Dangerous Adventures Of Von Doogan – Lorenzo Etherington)
(How to Write Awesome Comics – Neill Cameron)
Finally, a word for the editorial team, Tabs, Bruno, Chops, Ellie, Iris, and Quincy…
The editorial style matches perfectly the strips inside, lightweight, fun, well done, creating a consistent atmosphere that allows the readership to interact with the comic, allows them to feel part of something. Very cleverly done. Matt Baxter, who designs and draws the characters, has grown their involvement, from occasional pictures here and there in the earlier issues to full page comics to introduce the comics. It works very well.
(The editorial team – Matt Baxter)
You can pick up copies of The Phoenix comic each week from a host of great comic shops, including our own, from Waitrose, from a number of other outlets (see here on the Phoenix site) and through subscription. Full details at the Phoenix website.