Christmas comics are few and far between in the small press world. I can think of less than a handful in the years I’ve been covering the UK scene. Of course, that’s hardly surprising given their seasonal theme ensures their appeal becomes limited outside of a very narrow window of time. There’s no “Bah! Humbug!” factor here, simply the understandable logistics of balancing a considerable investment of creative time on work that will be a much harder sell for 11 months of the year.
So, as a reader who enjoys a festive comics offering, I’m always delighted to discover a rare entry for the holidays on the small press shelves (or in this case at the recent Catford Comic and Zine Fair). Perfect Love comes to us from the King Louie’s Lab team of Fred Morris and Dominic Linton who have been a regular presence at small press events on the London circuit over the last few years, involving themselves in the scene from their early teens on and forming their own micropublishing imprint a couple of years back. They’re joined on Perfect Love by artist HzL, another creative name from the KLL stable.
This bumper 60-page one-shot centres on a chance meeting between Michael – a young man rushing to get home to his parents for the holidays – and the homeless Mia, whose ensuing night of spontaneous recklessness is overshadowed by the changes in both their lives since they knew each other as children. The pair take an unlikely drunken holiday detour via toy shops, a Christmas cinema visit and an awkward home invasion. Michael is privileged but not uncaring while Mia is somewhat detached from reality and seemingly oblivious of their shared history. A flashback coda will add extra layers of poignancy to a story that is unafraid to highlight the bleakness of the season for many.
Where the book works particularly well is in its stark representation, both thematically and in presentation, of the realities of this time of year versus the rampant consumerism and enforced jollity. The visuals are admittedly unsophisticated and functional but panel to panel storytelling is well-paced and engaging in construction, giving the story a rhythmic flow that underlines the chaotic randomness at its heart. Linton and Morris leave some of the questions unanswered, allowing the audience to draw threads together and heightening the pathos of the juxtaposition of past and present at the story’s end.
A very different Christmas tale but one not without its own dark and very human charm.
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Review by Andy Oliver