Comics Features

REVIEW: T4L Comics Volume #1

Written by Mark Russell

The T4L Comic Review on the AP2HYC line is pulling into the station. Please mind the gap.

Out of all the comics I have reviewed so far, this one has the most peculiar connecting theme, namely the London Underground and British transport. The first issue of T4L Comics is an anthology comic created by the T4L Collaboration, edited by Virgil Yendell, with comics written and illustrated also from James Evans, Rob Cureton, Aaron Murphy, Zara Slattery, Mike Yeoman, Gavin Yong, and Cliodhna Lyons. There are five stories in the comic, each related in some capacity to the theme of the Tube, and have the fun qualities of anthologies, but also are weird, off-the-wall, and at times psychedelic and even depressing. So all aboard, mind the doors, and let’s take a look.

The first story is “Mind the Gap” by James Evans. It immediately kicks the door in with the weirdness factor. A drunk man waits at a station for a train and starts talking to a mouse that runs along the tracks, at which point he decides to get a bit too close to the platform edge as a train rushes in. He blacks out and the next thing he knows, he has shrunk down to the size of a mouse and is talking to anthropomorphic mice. The mice drag the man into a strange but potentially intriguing take on the “chosen one” story where they have formed a resistance against the “Rattus” and are mad at humans for no longer dropping train tickets on the line since the introduction of the Oyster card. And while this is going on, a strange beeping noise terrorises the mice and gets louder and louder. Then it turns out the whole thing is a dream and the drunk man may or may not be dying in an ambulance while hooked up to a heart monitor.

This comic is a peculiar one but still well-written and well-drawn. The designs for the mice freak me out with their white eyes and oddly-shaped heads but I like the art style and attention to detail. It may just be my own point of view, but there is or is not a notable amount of symbolism to drinking safely and life and death in the story, with the Rattus being death, and the various mice being parts of the man’s psyche, and the wiseman mouse being his second chance at life. Either that or I’m putting too much analysis into this story, and the drunk bloke is just a prat who walked into the path of a train and died.

The second story is “Walking To Work” by Virgil Yendell and drawn by Rob Cureton. It is can best be described as depressing. The short comic is about an office worker named Bob who grows tired of cramped bus journeys to work and decides to walk the next day. However, as he travels there, he has a pretty rough time as the world seems to rapidly speed up around him and society changes before his eyes as he ages too to the point he seemingly crumbles to dust and no one even noticed he died.

This comic is short but very effective in its length, showing how the world changes around poor Bob – coffee is no longer proper coffee, everyone must have identity cards, and the world seems to be looking more like something from The Jetsons where Judge Dredd is in charge of the government. Again, the story has some kind of message, but I’m not directly sure what it is trying to convey. Perhaps trying to show how older generations are left behind by the times, or as a take that to society’s state that keeping up with the times/trends is good, and if you aren’t, then you’ll be left behind in life. The art style is simple and charming. Definitely a good one.

The third story “Metronaut” is very short but pretty cool. Written and drawn by Aaron Murphy, the comic is about a graffiti artist dressed in a helmeted spacesuit who is caught spray painting by a police robot (who looks like a character off Jamie and the Magic Torch). Metronaut pulls out some rollerskates and dashes off into the Tube to escape the robotic hand of the law. He runs into a large fat guy who has a map of the London Underground tattooed on his chest for some reason, and Metronaut uses it to try and escape the police. Then the police robot censors the tattoo map by slapping “indecent posture” sign on him. Metronaut runs onto a train and ends up fighting the copper, until they hit the train’s acceleration lever and possibly cause it to crash judging by the bloody loop sign on the last page. Again, then might be another thematic message here, but I won’t try to interpret. The characters have very unique designs, the movements and action make the comic funny and cool, and the art style is well detailed and wacky.

Next is my favourite story in the comic, “”Churchill Party!”, written by Mike Yeoman and drawn by Gavin Young. It is short, sweet, and absolutely hilarious. It stars the statue of Winston Churchill that stands outside the Houses of Parliament coming to life, going to the Tube and using an Oyster card. He goes to the station and is met by his long term friends, statues of Queen Victoria, Prince Albert, and a winged chap who I think is from the statue outside Buckingham Palace, for a drunken night on the town. Yeah, seriously. The four go out to a nightclub and get drunk while Albert seems to be obsessed with Ultravox and the angel guy whines about everything. The comic is very short, but the final panel makes me laugh out loud. I love it.

The comic’s final story is called “Underground”, written and illustrated by Cliodhna Lyons, is…colourful to say the least. I can’t really explain what the heck is going on it, but it reminds me of The Beatles’ Yellow Submarine movie. It’s starts off black and white where a man, two woman and a screaming baby are stuck on the Tube waiting for the train to move. Then, the doors open and a colourful man wearing questionable clothes walks in, plays a flute, and the train seems to start tripping out with colourful, dream-like animals come in, and the passengers fly off on stars, and it ends. It certainly has a unique art design to it, and the weirdness of the story is up to eleven.

In conclusion, T4L Comics is definitely a comic that stands out from others with the imaginative imagery and ideas the writers and illustrators present in the stories. I wouldn’t really considerate this something I would read, but it was definitely an interesting experience to read.

Do you like to read literature and comics on the Tube? Or do you have the strange need to avoid eye contact on the train? Sound off in the comments or send us your thoughts on Twitter!

About the author

Mark Russell