EdieOP is a creator who delights in fashioning work that is mischievously unsettling. Hers is a world of painful childhood mishaps and acts of gleeful spite, where recklessness is the norm and personal disaster the punchline. Last year I reviewed two of her comics Jonah and Seven Blows to the Head (here) praising her “darkly intelligent sense of humour”. In fact I was so impressed with those books that I included Edie’s work in my annual small press round-up at the beginning of this year ‘Celebrating 2013: Ten UK Small Press Comics You Need to Own’.
Dangerfun is the latest offering from her impish imagination. It’s a catalogue of childhood calamity as we witness the stuff of parental nightmare; those scattered moments of immature madness that all readers will recognise from their younger years. This is an environment where consequences are considered solely after the fact and where slapstick is only ever a single step away from GBH. If you remember those unsupervised play dates where activities like adventuring on walls, fighting with household implements, or variations on games like “Chicken” were part and parcel of your day then be prepared for some moments of cringe-inducing nostalgia.
Admittedly Dangerfun is slight in anything resembling a plot but then that’s not what this comic was ever meant to be about. It’s more an evocation of those heady days of kiddiedom when a respite from boredom always trumped common sense or any concerns of personal safety. And it’s a work of mini-genius in terms of presentation, with Edie’s visuals providing their usual deliberately childlike perspective on the world. The mix of collage, photographs and illustration – juxtaposing reality with the fanciful – is a particularly effective reminder that, while darkly funny, this is not ramification-free cartoon style violence!
Now, if that whets your appetite and you want to explore the “Sunny Side of Sinister” (the tagline for all things EdieOP) further then the print collection A Comics Anthology compiles eight pages of strips on a variety of subject matter, giving a strong overall feel for her style. This is work that has been published on the EdieOP website and in places like the free UK “street press” comics showcase Off Life. It includes the topical ‘The Five Stages of a Financial Crisis’ that brings her customary, almost kid’s eye view to personal budgeting, and the pitch perfect ‘Graduation’ that had me wistfully nodding in agreement at how wonderfully she had captured that sense of anticlimax that prevails after the end of the three year university journey.
If there’s one offering here that definitively embodies an EdieOP comic though – that simultaneously morbidly amusing but slightly disquieting tone – it’s the excellent ‘The Great Tree’ (above). A beautifully played transition of sweet childhood innocence into utter infantile spite… with a decidedly disturbing twist.
Two excellent publications, then, from an idiosyncratic artist who I have no doubt whatsoever is destined for a dramatically expanded audience sooner rather than later. If you’re a regular ‘Small Pressganged’ reader then I would imagine by now that you have investigated her comics further but, if not, these two books are an ideal entry point. Ignore her wickedly witty creative voice at your peril!