When I reviewed Sick Chip last year, the first of Ria Grix’s ‘From the Adventures of the Anomalous Viola Holm’ series, I described it as “weird, offbeat, rambling and ignores all the supposedly established rules of narrative. And I loved it.” That first outing in absurdist narrative introduced us to siblings Viola and Oboe Holm, Oboe’s friends Bugle Meier, Bassoon Fugleber and Tuba Thoresen, a lake of vomit, and one perfect undigested potato chip. It was as brilliantly bizarre as it sounds and led to a Broken Frontier Award nomination for Grix last year.
Seven Point Two Nine is the follow-up in which the premise essentially boils down to Viola being given an unwelcome lift home from school by Oboe, Bugle, Basson and Tuba in Oboe’s rather cramped Renault. When the extended version of New Order’s ‘Blue Monday’ comes on the car radio the group decide to keep turning around a roundabout until the song’s end so they can hear the whole titular seven minutes and twenty-nine seconds before they return home. As will be of no surprise to anyone already familiar with Sick Chip this turn of events leads to the customary weird side effects that we have already come to expect from a Viola Holm comic…
Once again Grix throws together a delightfully ludicrous mix of narrative ingredients in a story where nothing much really happening is entirely the point of the comic. The meta elements are more pronounced this time with Viola sharing their commentary on events with the reader, and bizarre cameos from spectral entities, leporine conversationalists, and space-exploring teddy bears. Graphic Nonsense elevated as a new, vital and exciting sub-genre of the form.
Grix’s visual storytelling is sublime in the way it captures movement. The constantly slanting panels to portray Oboe’s car on its seemingly never-ending cyclical trip around the roundabout actually create a sense of motion sickness, and trailing sound effects only exacerbate that feeling of dizziness. Seven Point Two Nine is a welcome return to the world of the anomalous Viola who is very quickly becoming my favourite passive protagonist in comics.
Ria Grix (W/A) • Self-published, £6.00 print/£3.00 digital
Review by Andy Oliver