Art School Scum

Posted: Tuesday, April 10, 2007
By: Steve Saville

Cover of Art School Scum Creator(s): Tom Humberstone
Publishers: Vented Spleen
From: com
Price: 2.50

Wow, this is really bitter stuff. The vitriol drips from every page of this the collected works of ‘Art School Scum,’ 24 pages of unrestrained hatred for anyone and everyone connected with the art school world.

I am assuming Tom Humberstone is an ex student of such an establishment and I can only conclude that he spent most of his time there snarling and growling at anyone who dared cross his path especially anyone who dared to express opinions or show any glimpses of an over inflated ego. This is not a happy read.

The full range of inhabitants are given their individual page of loathing and hatred. We have a page dedicated to the tutor who makes “regular allusions to their own [predominantly unsuccessful] work,” the rich kid who has “no discernable talent,” the bitter vindictive cartoonist, the modern artist etc. etc. you get the picture, no one escapes not even the creator himself.

Each page is basically a single frame of a particular character surrounded by explanatory boxes that reveal just why they are the lowest from of pond life. There is variety though and a couple of the pages are in strip format, the tone remains relentlessly malignant though. Jeez Tom I hope this banished a few demons and was therapeutic because I can hardly imagine it endearing you to anyone lampooned within.

There is a heavy and overt EC horror comic influence in the design of many of the pages and this creates a feeling that British Art Schools are somewhat dated establishments inhabited by freaks, ghouls and zombies who create meaningless and worthless works of art to terrorise ordinary people with. Remind me to avoid the next open day.

The most tragic page is the final one showing the graduate in full academic regalia looking glum as he contemplates a future plagued by self doubt and debt, a glowing recommendation for tertiary study•not.

The art work is great there is a nice variety and many of the pages are in fact in the form of a homage to great contemporary comic creators like Pekar and Crumb.

This collection will not cheer you up it is angry and direct. It is however well written and well drawn, whether that is enough to compensate for the vindictive whipping that the reader will receive is debatable.

In a Word: Acrid.

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