Written and drawn by: Sean Azzopardi
Publisher: Phat Comics
Type: BW Graphic Novel
One of the things I enjoy doing and actually look forward to when going to comic conventions is prowling the independent creators sections. It”s always a joy to meet new creators and discuss the problems they face in pursuing their dreams. The determination they have is also invigorating and inspirational.
I met Sean Azzopardi during one of my prowls at one of the Bristol Comic Expos. What caught my eye was his surname which is a common surname here in Malta. But after speaking with Sean I soon found out that he was born in Midlands while bread in London and when I met him again last year during the first Malta Comic Con I confirmed that he cannot come from a Maltese lineage because he”s quite modest when it comes to food consumption.
The first time I met Sean he was promoting his first graphic novel Twelve Hour Shift and after posing with him for a photo I bought the book, and curiosity having the better of me I read it as soon as I unpacked the travelling case (when my next holiday was due).
Twelve Hour Shift is a work of fiction that draws closely on Sean”s personal experiences. Told through the main persona of Steve Jones the story resolves around a man struggling to make ends meet in a job he doesn”t like while pursing his artistic instinct. Offbeat and quirky the book follows Steve”s dreams of finishing a comic book while dealing with the frustration of everyday life in a variety of temping jobs he takes. While never really depressing the book contains a tangle of emotions and asks serious questions which anyone who has ever found himself in a similar position (and I bet that”s one hell of a lot of people) can identify with. A series of bizarre and weird characters come and go and keep the story flowing.
The book is drawn in a cartoon style and being a natural cartoonist Sean makes good use of his skills to convey his message and keeps things interesting. The fact that it”s black and white also helps express better the general emotions explored in the story.
This is certainly not everyone”s cup of tea, but for those who seek something a bit more taught provoking and realistic this book works like a charm. At times (though not often) the pacing of the book is a bit slow but this is a clever technique employed by Azzopardi to convey the monotony one feels when trying to survive twelve hour shifts which suck the life out of you.
I could very easily relate to the main persona and the struggles he faces, and the fact that the book is peppered with quirky humour maximized my enjoyment. Not one for everyone, but certainly one that comes heavily recommended. If you”re facing a twelve hour shift take this book with you and for once you”ll have a good 12 hours.
Twelve hour shift can be bought directly from Phat Comics at: http://phatcatz.org.uk/twelve-hour-shift-book/
For those of you who missed Sean last time round, this year he will once again be attending the Malta Comic Con. So make sure you meet this down to earth and wickedly funny guy who I”ve had the pleasure of sharing a few beers with. Sean is always happy to sign, sketch and chat so don”t miss your chance to meet him. A word of advise; don”t try bribing Sean with food!
Chris Le Galle