HCZF MONTH! Back in 2018 when I asked small press creator Jade King about the genres she worked in and themes of her comics she defined them as “wonky faces, gross food, bodies, aliens [and] strange British phenomena (like meat raffles).” While that may sound eclectic in a gloriously bizarre way, or even perhaps a little esoteric in some aspects, it’s a far more fitting way of summing up her output to date than any summary I could dream up here. From the Weird Canteen Zine to her Tina and Britney comics, Jade K’s material has a DIY culture vibe and an often unashamedly outrageous attitude.
Tina and Britney, the two mermaid sisters who are probably Jade K’s most well-known creations, have appeared in a number of short self-published comics to date. Britney fits the more traditional visualisation of a mermaid, having the upper body and face of a beautiful young woman and the lower body tail of a fish. Tina, though, is the literal opposite of her sibling, having a fish’s head and upper body and the legs of a human. Essentially the comics are teen drama that transport their slacker comedy stylings to an undersea world.
Tina & Britney & The Visitor sees the duo out of sorts. Tina has become concerned at Britney’s behaviour, especially as she has been neglecting to ridicule and belittle her in her normal way of late. When Britney’s out-of-control pursuit of one of the mermen in her social circle leads to her being laid up with a ripped tale the truth about her condition emerges, and the nature of the title’s “visitor” is revealed in all its horrid truth…
The humour of Tina & Britney & The Visitor ranges from a kind of gross-out slapstick to defiantly bad taste biological horror-comedy. If you haven’t read any Tina and Britney before then it might be worth investing in multiple comics to get into the rhythm of Jade K’s particular line in over-the-top gags but this latest storyline will certainly give you a taste of the kind of irreverent take on the mermaid mythos that the comics encompass.
Kings’s art is uncomplicated but lively with an energetic sense of motion between panels that suits the anarchic misadventures of her protagonists perfectly. Her use of lettering is also memorable, adding to the sense of conflict when the girls find themselves in another disaster of their own (well Britney’s) making. The key plot point in Tina & Britney & The Visitor is so squirm-worthy it will make you wince to think about it and it’s just that kind of uncompromising excess that makes this such a fun read! It won’t be to everyone’s tastes but if you like your comedy bleak, brutal and full of beguiling body horror then Tina & Britney & The Visitor will have a definite ostentatious appeal. You can find Jade in Hall Two at Hackney Comic + Zine Fair.
Jade K (W/A) • Self-published, £4.50
You can also find Jade K’s online store here.
Review by Andy Oliver