THOUGHT BUBBLE 2023! Thought Bubble fortnight here at Broken Frontier has given us a chance to increase the spotlight on the genre comics work that is usually outnumbered by the experimental, alternative and socially conscious practice that makes up the bulk of our commentary throughout the year. We have already given some shout-outs for fantasy, horror and romance comics this time around and today we get to look at Will Humberstone’s Demon Smooch: Court of the Mad God; a one-shot genre meld of supernatural comedy-drama.
The Demon Smooch of the title are a demonic three-piece riot grrrl band set to embark on Hellfest, a music event which takes place within the Infernal Realms. But their first gig at the Court of the Mad God is not off to a good start. A falling out within the group, band members Abbi and Rose’s not always very responsible lifestyle, and the sudden need to find a replacement drummer have all complicated matters. Can Demon Smooch put all these issues behind them, deal with a presence from their past, and succeed in grasping their moment in the musical spotlight?
While Humberstone’s story is a familiar one of conflict, bonding and triumphing over the odds (with an obvious netherworldly colouring) it’s also a fun romp with some well measured comic timing and a sense of a wider fantasy environment slowly being built up. The quirky humour is accentuated by his use of irregular panel structures which adds to the comedic pacing and the sense of motion and character movement as the pages progress.
There’s also some fine use of lettering and sound effects to either define tone in character interaction or to create a feeling of environment. Panels existing within thought bubbles, shared bubbles, or logos within speech balloons all add to the fun. There is one subplot that feels like it fizzles out without a satisfying resolution but if this is indeed just the first of a series of Demon Smooch stories then the intention may well be for that to be picked up on further down the line. And with this issue having a subtitle instead of being numbered (comics commentator top tip: this is good practice – avoid numbering your self-published comics and increase your chances of being stocked in shops!) then this may not be the last we have seen of Demon Smooch.
Will Humberstone (W/A) • Self-published
Will Humberstone will be at Table H8 in the Bubbleboy Hall at Thought Bubble 2023
Review by Andy Oliver