Pony School

Posted: Tuesday, November 8, 2005
By: Steve Saville

Cover of Pony School Writer(s): Edward Berridge
Artist(s): Bryan Coyle
Publishers: Dead Camp Jones (Self Published)
From: UK
Price: £2 + 50 p (p and p) (UK)

A comic that combines gymkhanas and horsie things with assassinations in Turkmenistan and spy stuff. The story revolves around teenager Penny Ryder's attempt at solving international incidents and still make it home in time for the school gymkhana. An interesting concept. School girls as international espionage agents, this is the kind of story I needed when I was a teenager but alas I had to grow up without it.

It should be a winning concept but I am not totally convinced that it actually works and that's despite the "Tomb Raider" style action- scenes. Seriously though this comic does draw back from the voyeuristic and does attempt to present something more than a comic version of every teenage boys fantasy.

Visually it is fine and the fact that there is a heap of fight scenes featuring girls in school uniforms is always a bonus but all too often the artwork seems blurry and lacks sharpness. The preponderance of square shaped speech balloons also seems to detract from the overall visual impression. Ultimately the pages don't quite burst into life as they should. It all seems a little static somehow, this is surprising because Coyle does display a deft hand when it comes to movement lines.

There are some great added extras in Pony School such as the glossary of terms [all those tricky little equine terms side by side with essential spy terminology] and the artificial prose history of the comic presented as fact.

It has a nice British [especially the Union Jack dominated back cover] feel about it and sends up the genre of British girl comics with considerable skill. In many ways it is not a million miles away from a gentle version of something you would find in Viz, and it canters along at a steady clip but in the final analysis I can only hope that Penny's enthusiastic optimism of the final frame as she rides Toby off across the green fields of England does come to fruition when Pony School returns.

In a Word: Neigh.

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