If you read our recent ‘Small Pressganged’ 5th birthday article you’ll have heard Avery Hill Publishing’s Ricky Miller recounting how he discovered the malevolently mirthful talents of EdieOP through this very column a few years back and his description of the Maleficium creator’s style as “deceptively simple art that acts as the child-sized velvet glove to the sinister iron fist of Edie’s sense of humour”.
Indeed it’s that very sense of innocence wrapped up in a joyfully disquieting glee – an incongruity that is almost beautiful in its naive but brutal conception – that has so marked her out as such an exceptional and distinctive talent in U.K. comics over the last few years. That very juxtaposition of the strangely naive and the undeniably horrific is very much in evidence in Making Friends with Smiley, her latest comic which debuted at the Lakes International Comic Art Festival in October and is available this weekend at Thought Bubble in Leeds.
Recognisable symbols of childhood sit side by side with malign forces from darker dimensions in this short tale of Violet, a young girl who makes friends with the otherworldly creature that lives on the opposite side of the bathroom mirror. Smiley, as she names this skeletal terror is a reality-warping force of (super)nature who, nonetheless, seems oddly oblivious to the banality of his new surroundings and his impact on them.
There’s that same macabre wit that is such a staple of EdieOP’s mini-narratives at work here as we take another trip to her fictional reality where children are always the knowing protagonists and adults often clueless as to the true nature of the darkness around them. This is a child’s eye view of the world with the vivid colouring both accentuating that storybook feel and a gaudy atmosphere of impending doom.
It’s the smaller moments that most delight though. Those lovely little flourishes of visual characterisation as Violet turns demonic terror from the realms beyond into essentially a childhood pet that are just gorgeously endearing in their depiction. A true one-off talent, EdieOP’s latest minicomic offering deserves your support this weekend at Thought Bubble.
You can find EdieOP at Table 159b in the New Dock Hall at Thought Bubble.
For regular updates on all things small press follow Andy Oliver on Twitter here.