Thursday, 15 July 2010

Magic Mirror, Ed Pinsent

Eibonvale Press here takes a very successful first step into comics publishing. The artwork, most of it originally appearing in fanzine-type publications in the eighties and nineties, looks fantastic, Pinsent's bold black lines reproducing with perfect clarity – though if you flick through without reading you might imagine it formless nonsense, such is the variety of strange, apparently random imagery it presents. However, once you begin to read, the coherence of each individual story becomes clear. Useful notes from the author help clarify his intentions, but leave room for the reader's personal response. Among my favourites were the two-part tale of The Last Eskimo, who awakes from a ten-thousand year freeze to hunt down the wandering moon, and The Lion Sleeps Tonite, about a stationery thief confronted by his own criminality.

After a series of equally varied and interesting shorts – divided into humorous tales, fables, family tales, Astorial anecdotes, poems and dark tales  – the book takes a slight dip with the first three Windy Wilberforce stories. Predating many of the other strips, they are a little dull and over-long (not to mention that their tale of stupidity caused by "nigrification" is open to a very unsympathetic reading), but important parts of the collection in that they establish Windy as an essentially decent human being. With the next story things are back to the usual high quality – but Windy himself is at his worst, becoming a paper dictator and earning himself the wrath of the world's trees! After an odd pair of shorts, the last ninety pages are devoted to a hallucinatory, prophetic Wilberforce epic, The Saga of the Scroll, which is breathtaking, ambitious, experimental and not a little baffling, in the best possible way.

Well worth the attention of anyone interested in indie comics, or indeed anyone who has enjoyed other Eibonvale books, among which it sits very comfortably.

Magic Mirror, Ed Pinsent, Eibonvale Press, A4 tpb, 352pp

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