Empirical Majesty #1

Posted: Tuesday, December 13, 2005
By: Steve Saville

Cover of Empirical Majesty #1 Creator(s): Andrew Bartlett and Eleonora Kortsarz
Publishers: JOB Comics (Self Published)
From: Wales
Price: 50p + 25p pandp

Empirical Majesty is the latest offering from Just Over Broke comics and like their other recent publication 'Tales of the Contrary' the reader is presented with a very British and, in places, very learned volume.

In the words of the writer, Bartlett, Empirical Majesty is the 'first chapter in an alternative history adventure.' The reader is plunged into a Europe on the cusp of the 20th Century, a world where the Scientific Revolution of the 18th Century was taken literally, a world where technocratic councils govern Britain and the Monarchy have been exiled to the Hanoverian states of America. Bartlett presents us with a well thought out alternative world, a world based on what could have been if history had ebbed instead of flowed. A world where a gigantic statue of J.S Mill dwarfs Big Ben. It is a world that is both Victorian and contemporary at the same time. So Zeppelins and handle bar moustaches occupy the same city as modern taxis and skyscrapers. In keeping with this strange juxtaposition the language is both Victorian and modern, "do you have a telephonic address at which I can contact you?"

Chapter One hardly scratches the surface of this grand concept, and in fact I am in awe of anyone even attempting something quite as ambitious as this.

I must say that I prefer the A4 format employed here, even if some of the pages feel a little crowded with up to 9 frames and very narrow gutters. While I am on the subject of presentation I will make a couple of further comments. I heartily support the use of photocopiers, rather than paying large sums to a printer, but it is essential that the toner is not running out or the look of the publication could well be compromised. Some of the pages here are a little 'light' and this does detract from the art- work. Another point that bugs me [why I don't know] is the use of square speech bubbles. I just feel that square bubbles within square frames creates too much of an ordered angular feel to a comic.

There I feel better now.

Empirical Majesty presents us with a whole new view of our world but it does not allow itself to get bogged down in this theoretical treatise, the comic bounds along with considerable energy. We have action scenes, fights on trains as well as character development and the build up of considerable intrigue. It is early days and too early to tell whether Empirical Majesty will be able to sustain its ambitious start but I hope it does.

Oh and the cover which parodies an early edition of a Penguin paperback is a winning touch.

In a Word: Heady.

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