Welcome to (Slightly Grubby) Heaven

Posted: Tuesday, May 7, 2002
By: Darren Schroeder

Cover of Welcome to (Slightly Grubby) Heaven Creator(s): Toby Tripp
Publishers: Welcome Publishing (Self Published)
From: uk
Price: £2.75 (UK)

One of the main advantages that the small press has over mainstream comics is that the work of the creators isn't filtered through the sensibilities or business concerns of other people. Editors who have to worry about market share etc. can impose changes on a comic, making safe, wholesome and maybe boring. Toby's comic might have turned out different if it had been controlled by someone else, because the topic he examines doesn't seem that suited to a mass market. The topic? Suicide.

Toby takes a two pronged approach to the book. On the left hand pages he presents mini comics following the experiences of a person who commits suicide and faces a series of wistful encounters with the different functionaries and inhabitants of heaven. There are some amusing gags in these simply but effectively drawn pages, as well as some thoughtful moments.

On the right hand pages Toby writes about a job he once had, cleaning up the bodies of people who committed suicide in the London Underground. The text is written over the top of a series of photographs he took of the underground stations that he used to work in. The text is introspective, shocking, angry and fascinating. We learn about the practical aspects of his job as well as the long term effects that events had on Toby and his work colleges.

Toby writes what he thinks about a subject that polite society tends to ignore. Suicide is a major issue, perhaps if more people talk and write about it people contemplating it will know where to get support and the consequences of their actions for those left behind. Thanks to Toby and the small press for treating us like adults.

In a Word: Remarkable.

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