THOUGHT BUBBLE FORTNIGHT! Returning to his autobiographical comic Endswell, Peter Morey takes another unexpected sidestep in a series which continues to surprise with its multiple perspectives on intergenerational family life and jumping timeframes. Beginning with a tale of familial feuding in its first issue, it detailed the divisive and toxic presence of lodger Jim at Endswell, Morey’s grandmother’s farm, and how that led to it falling into a state of disrepair. The second part shifted its attention to the viewpoint of the farm’s dogs, giving a very different perspective on events. And with this third instalment, subtitled ‘Swanny’, Morey again switches focus with a more self-contained episode dealing with his immediate family’s car journey as they travel to his grandfather’s funeral.
While it ties into the greater, overarching storyline, Endswell #3 is a fascinating one-shot character study in itself. Here we have Morey, his parents, and his two sisters in a claustrophobic, inescapable situation; the adult “kids” almost immediately reverting to their childhood incarnations, arguing about who should be sitting in the middle of the back seat and re-establishing the hierarchy of their younger years.
As the journey continues the five swap stories about their grandfather, reminiscing about both key moments in his life (his time as an RAF pilot and his role as managing director of the family firm) and anecdotal remembrances (his regimented dining habits and his tedious monologues about roundabouts and car parks).
It’s all delivered with a good-natured and fond sense of appreciation, with frequent diversions from the ongoing motorway experience to revisit the events of the past. Morey wisely avoids the trap of too many talking heads here with another exercise in clever representational techniques. We switch frequently from the car’s interiors, to exterior shots of its journey, and scenes where both are juxtaposed; multiple flashback sequences allow us to see the past as envisioned by the various players; there are some of those diagrammatical two-page spreads that Morey has become so proficient at (one in particular of the underground lair of the mad axe murderer the siblings imagined to live in their grandfather’s shed stands out); and there are forays into playful visual metaphor too.
With each new chapter of Endswell Peter Morey’s confidence as a visual storyteller becomes ever more pronounced. Funny and touching, and complete with an extra commentary at the end from those portrayed that reminds us of the subjectivity of memory in autobio comics, ‘Swanny’ is the strongest episode so far in the run, with nearly every page using a different storytelling tool unique to comics. This can absolutely be read alone as a complete story but canny Thought Bubble attendees will no doubt want to pick up the whole series from Morey at Table 51 in the Bubbleboy Hall at Thought Bubble.
Peter Morey (W/A) • Self-published, £5.00
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Review by Andy Oliver