If you immerse yourself in the UK small press scene to the degree that I do then there will always be times where you support work in a financial sense simply for the sake of encouraging new creators. This was largely my mindset when I picked up two comics by twelve-year-old Stanley Miller in London’s Gosh! Comics recently. I had heard positive things of his Typical Worm via Lizz Lunney – a longstanding favourite creator in this column – on more than one occasion but imagined my purchase was largely about backing a young creator than discovering publications that I would be covering here in ‘Small Pressganged’.
How wrong I was.
There are currently two Miller offerings in print. Typical Worm was his first and was produced when he was just 11. It’s a true minicomic in presentation, less than the size of an adult hand and with each of its 20 panels forming individual pages. It tells the humorous short story of a day in the life of an average annelid with a fatalistically funny flourish. What is most striking about this tale is Miller’s astute understanding of comedy pacing on the comics page, and his use of both perspective and sequential art’s peculiar relationship with the passage of time to build up his gag, and work towards a darkly witty visual punchline.
Wizards n Stuff is a more recent creation and here the influence of Stanley’s comics heroine Lizz Lunney is very much in evidence. Although there are many uses of the standards of the form herein I would label this more as a zine than a comic per se. It’s a collection of illustrated largely one-page witticisms that have that same rapid fire rhythm that can be found in a Lunney offering and a similarly bizarre sense of humour.
Maize-based cheesy snacks with a penchant for tittle-tattle like the ‘Gossip Wotsits’, for example, or the extreme leporine obsession of ‘Sally and her Rabbits’. It’s a constant stream of off-the-wall wackiness that irreverently takes in the philosophical world view of an elastic band, a jaunty set of lyrics for those who suffer from allergic rhinitis in the summer months, and another brilliantly timed strip about feeding a reluctant baby.
With a wonderfully off-centre imagination on show here Stanley Miller is a name to watch in the future, whether he continues in the same line of surreal one-off visual jokes or attempts a longer-form narrative at some point. It’s very easy to sound condescending when reviewing the work of younger talents but while there’s obviously room for his style to develop and evolve there’s genuinely something very special happening here. I seldom cover work from creators without an online store to direct my readers to. This is one of those rare occasions when an exception to that rule is a necessity.
Typical Worm and Wizards N Stuff are currently on sale in Gosh! Comics priced £1.50 and £3.00 respectively.
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