They may be one of the newest micropublishing crews in town but Good Comics are quickly building up a reputation as a publishing platform for some of the best up-and-coming talents on the UK small press circuit. Robin William Scott’s Every Life I Ever Lived debuted at Thought Bubble last year and has been receiving much positive critical acclaim while Broken Frontier 2016 Breakout Talent Award winner Rozi Hathaway and Olivia Sullivan of this year’s BF ‘Six Small Press Creators to Watch’ programme will both have books published by them this year.
The Good Comics team of Paddy Johnston, Samuel C. Williams and Pete Hindle (interviewed here last year at BF) first came to prominence with their Dead Singers Society anthology. Now at its third issue this collection of short biographical accounts of deceased singing stars – and how their influence impacted upon the creators involved – combines comics, illustration and the very occasional text piece. It’s zine-style in approach and to date has included contributions from a number of noted small press luminaries like Danny Noble and John Riordan.
Between the signature Mike Medaglia (One Year Wiser) cover designs Volume 3 gives us nineteen brief glimpses into the musical oeuvres of notable artistes no longer with us. Fittingly, it kicks off with one of its strongest entries as Wallis Eates (top banner image), that great exponent of the autobio comics art, takes us into a reflective dream state that underlines the importance of David Bowie throughout her own life. It’s given an extra poignancy by the cleverly affecting but subdued colouring choices.
Another of this third issue’s most powerful entries comes from Sammy Borras whose inspired use of the pure visual language of comics to communicate an aural experience is remarkable in her piece on singer and cellist Arthur Russell. Also at the front end of the book the delicacy of Rozi Hathaway’s often haunting work is embodied in her fragile and memorable ode to Eva Cassidy. There’s a similar note to Tim Bird’s piece on Kirsty MacColl that speaks to us all the more deeply for its sparse artistic economy.
For a number of those involved the singers’ lives are juxtaposed with pivotal points in their own existences when they were first touched by their work, as with Ed Syder and his appreciation of Broadcast’s Trish Keenan or Rica Marsh’s intensely personal connection to Swedish singer-songwriter Björn Afzelius (above). That’s perhaps never better displayed than in Paddy Johnston’s own two-pager on Adam Yauch of the Beastie Boys (below) that covers his own connection to his subject’s work and then transposes the artiste’s outlook on life to the darker topicality of today.
As is the nature of projects like this, there’s always going to be a slightly disjointed feeling to the proceedings but in many ways that disparate approach is also one of its greatest strengths. Dead Singers Society should feel fragmentary because its subject matter isn’t necessarily the singers themselves but how they influenced the lives of the creators within its pages, to whatever degree of tangibility that involved. Those wanting to acquaint themselves more fully with what Good Comics are up to are advised to check out the three-issue bundle of Dead Singers Society issues available on their online store.
For regular updates on all things small press follow Andy Oliver on Twitter here.