Cruel Britannia: A Night in Blighty

Posted: Tuesday, August 2, 2005
By: Darren Schroeder

Cover of Cruel Britannia: A Night in Blighty Creator(s): Andrew Reed
Publishers: Self Published
From: England
Price: 1.80

According to Blur Modern life is rubbish, and Andrew seems to agree for the most part, as his book collects a sextet of quirky tales of urban life. The characters inhabit the city at night, either for fun or in the case of one, as dictated by her job. Andrew captures the way nocturnal activities have a disjointed quality. The characters are out of synch with the rest of the world, and some of the things they get up to have an illicit flavour. Running away, spying on people, dying.

Andrew creates an strange atmosphere in these comics, something that lies in-between funny and creepy. The stories don't have much in the way of plot as Andrew concentrates on constructing interesting characters with a minimum of dialogue. We don't get their life stories, but we do get a sense of how they are feeling and how they deal with other people:; for the most part not very well. The dialogue is deadpan, full of dry wit and sorrow as well as imaginative ideas. The interchange between Caine and girlfriend Jane regarding the possibility of Jane dressing up for some sex play is a funny idea on it's own. What could have been just a humours punch-line to a short joke is given added weight by the awkward way the couple interact. They are real people having a conversation so Caine doesn't quite know how to put the suggestion to Jane. Then things get really weird, as something quite strange happens. It is fantasy? Did I misread the last few panels? I'm not sure, but it still makes a strange sort of sense as Caine seems to realise with his last thought.

The rather grim nature of life on display is reflected in Andrew's artwork, which presents characters who look weary and tired. There's no room for glamour here, so those of you looking for musclebound hunks or pin-up beauties will have to look elsewhere. The way Andrew draws faces needs a little bit of work because at the moment they appear a bit flat faced. The basis of good artwork is here though, with a lot of detail being put into the costumes and expressions. They all looked alive and well worn. The story Cut the Cord and Go looked the best of the collection. It appears that Andrew might have used a thicker pen, or worked with smaller sized original artwork than the other stories where the line work is too thin.

This book caught me off guard. Andrew is a unique story-teller, giving us character driven stories that don't tip over into excess angst. this is a book that leaves the reader wanting more. Andrew achieves this not though any fault in his work, but by producing well crafted short stories that stick in the readers mind.

In a Word: Humanity.

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