Friday, December 11, 2009

Phonogram: The Singles Club #6

Written by Kieron Gillen
Art by Jamie McKelvie, with PJ Holden and Adam Cadwell

Sometimes the comics industry can operate in very mysterious ways. This week saw the publication of Phonogram, which was originally solicited for August, as well as the latest issue of DC's Adventure Comics, and they are remarkably similar in theme, if not execution.

Both comics focus on an overly serious late teenager. Superboy Prime's comic collection becomes his kryptonite. Black Lantern Alex Luthor tells him, "Others find hope and inspiration between these pages. They find a community to belong to. But you're not like the others. You claim ownership, but you have no control. And you hate what you can't control."

For Lloyd, it's all about 'Passion, Devotion, Commitment, and Intelligence'. He is passionately devoted to music (specifically Dexys), but his intensity has consumed his humour, like a black power ring drawn to rage or love. He toils away at his 'Master Plans' and fanzines, but with no real satisfaction.

I think both of these comics could hit pretty close to home for more than a few comics readers. Geoff John's attempt at confronting these issues is pretty self-referential and in-jokey, while Gillen's examination is much more heartfelt and soul-searching. His accompanying text piece is in many ways more gripping than the comic, as he explains how Lloyd is a reflection of his most obsessive period in life. This issue is interesting in the way it experiments with format - using the structure of a self-published fanzine to convey its story. There is less McKelvie than normal in this issue (perhaps explaining why it arrived so soon after the previous issue), but that only strengthens his pages.

The two back-up pieces are quite nice, and they both feature David Kohl. "Your Song" is my favourite of the two, as Kohl plots revenge on someone who behaves similarly to how he often does, albeit with vastly different motivations.

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