Graphic Novel
Colour
Publisher: Time Bomb Comics
Written by Lawrence Rider
Illustrated and Lettered by Rebecca Teall
Edited and Designed by Steve Tanner

It’s not easy juggling a full time job, organising an annual comic convention, promoting comics and married life. I would be lying if I said there aren’t times when it all gets too overwhelming. It was during one of those times when I was feeling overwhelmed when my buddy Steve Tanner (the brains behind Time Bomb Comics) sent us two comics for reviewing purposes. He was particularly excited if somewhat nervous about Longship, because it is a different book from the ones normally published by Time Bomb Comics. Needless, to say I was intrigued, and despite feeling overwhelmed I promised Steve that I will review Longship myself instead of delegating it to one of Wicked Comics’ resident reviewers and with hindsight I’m glad I did.

Longship is not just different from what Time Bomb normally publishes, but it is also different from the majority of comics I’ve read. It utilizes an unusual square picture-book format which enhances the emotions of the story. The style may need some getting used to at first, but it’s the kind that grows on you once you start reading.

In essence Longship is an emotional and heart warming tale of an eccentric man’s unusual funeral. Told from the perspective of the dead man’s son Gary, we follow the story through an interview conducted by a journalist covering the funeral of a man in the titular longship upon a hilltop. The premise is simple but rich in the complex emotions it subtly examines, such as the relation between father and son, the departure from one life into the next, and one man’s uncompromising love of his hobby.

One of the things that I enjoyed most when reading Longship was the ease in which the reflective and thought provoking subject matter is conveyed. In my opinion this is the strength of the book, and I suspect is what has drawn Steve to publish the project. Despite the fact that nothing much actually happens, the book never feels boring nor does it ever stray from its primary purpose to entertain which is a pitfall, a lot of media examining complex subject matters seem to fall in. It kind of reminded me of the TV Series Sienfeld, in the brutal honesty with which it conveys human emotions. But whilst Seinfeld was primarily a humorous examination of every day life and the interactions of a stand up comedian with his friends, Longship is primarily a drama/coming of age examination of an everyday Joe and his relation with his father. Nonetheless they are both excellent, entertaining representations of life as we know it.

Lawrence Rider’s writing is so graceful that it verges on the hypnotic, in the sense that once you start reading you’ll feel so engrossed in the story that you just can’t let go. One of the most striking aspects of Rider’s writing is how authentic the dialogue feels which is made all the more impressive when you consider that Longship is the author’s debut offering in the publishing world. Rider handles the serious nature of the story quite well through bouts of dry humour, and as a result the story never feels bleak.

Rebacca Teall’s artwork compliments Rider’s story well, and perfectly captures the spirit of the story. Considering the lack of action in the story Teall must be complimented for the innovative way in which she depicted the story. Her panelling is strong and flows as gracefully as water. Her colouring is stunning, and her realistic photogenic style becomes increasingly appealing. The only criticism I can level at her work is that while for the majority of the time the facial expressions are impeccable, it is not consistent throughout. That said such a minor issue is more than made up for by some truly breathtaking panels.

As for the book in general my only complain and I’m not entirely sure it is a valid one is that the lettering is at times a bit unclear. However, this could be simply due to the fact that I read a digital preview copy and probably works much better in the physical book.

Time Bomb Comics have through time built themselves a reputation for going for quality rather than quantity in terms of publishing, and Longship though different from other Time Bomb titles reinforces this reputation.

In synergy Rider’s and Teall’s work project an impressive sense of calm and beauty that makes reading Longship feel kind of therapeutic. Consequently, if you’re looking for something beautifully different I suspect you can’t do much better than this. A masterpiece in the very sense of the word!

Reviewed for Wicked Comics by
Chris Le Galle

For more information on Time Bomb Comics and their impressive publications kindly visit:

http://www.timebombcomics.com

Longship should be available shortly, but should you happen to be at a convention where Time Bomb Comics are exhibiting make sure to visit their stand.

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