The Corbyn Comic Book was released in a sweet-flavoured aftermath of the 2017 U.K. general election for Labour. They won without really winning a majority, whilst the Conservatives didn’t totally lose their grip, but let it slip enough to call in help from the DUP. Fast forward to July 2018, a year after the book was published, and it’s a rather different story for Labour. Rows over antisemitism being rife in the party and a seemingly unconvincing stance on Brexit contributed to the party loosing votes in the recent local elections to the Liberal Democrats and the Green Party.
This places The Corbyn Comic Book in an somewhat different light against today’s political landscape. Because of commitments to other writing projects and the forever-beckoning of the real world (i.e., I’m a terrible time-keeper), only now do I get to grips with SelfMadeHero’s light-hearted celebration of Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn. It’s a handsomely produced package, collecting together 34 brief strips that bear some wonderfully diverse visuals from wonderfully diverse creators, all of them united in painting a rather rose-tinted picture of Corbyn. A year on from the Tory’s disastrous general election results, Corbyn’s media image is becoming tainted by events mentioned above. However, The Corbyn Comic Book remains a humorous reminder of why people found his plain-speaking socialist ideals so endearing.
If you wanted to know what the general consensus is of The Corbyn Comic Book, he’s portrayed on the comic’s front cover clad in a superhero outfit, meanwhile, the back cover bears the hashtag #Comix4Corbyn. Those of a right-wing disposition are encouraged to search elsewhere, although one gets the feeling that pitching The May Comic Book to SelfMadeHero, publishers of The Corbyn Comic Book, would fall on deaf ears.
Whatever political leanings SelfMadeHero have, you can;t deny their voting prowess in including strips for the comic. On the inside of the front cover, it states how creators were invited to pitch strips for inclusion in the comic, and that they would be judged on ‘humour, originality and draughtsmanship’. There’s a remarkable breadth of visual talent on display in the comic, with strips such as Stephen Collins‘ Pinkovision and Ginny Skinner‘s Jeremy and the Unicorbyns drawn in a superbly caricatured manner. On the other end of the scale, Billy Mather‘s Jeremy Adorbyn and Henry Millar‘s Slowly Things Changed ache with humanity and are much more straight-faced.
Throughout the comic, despite the visual frivolity, their individual creators are bound by a strong disdain for media conglomerates who have their eyes set on discrediting Corbyn. No strip encapsulates this attitude better than Chris Baker and J. Francis Totti‘s Lethal Corbyn III, which depicts Prime Minister’s Questions as less of a verbal taunt between Labour and Conservatives, but rather a physical bloodbath, concluding with an off-hand summary from the BBC’s Laura Kuenssburg.
There is a gentler, more inquisitive theme on display in The Corbyn Comic Book. What Mike Donaldson‘s Hairy Stems lacks in subtlety, it makes up for in effective simpleness. Two slugs traversing their backyard kingdom and conversing the topic of politics winds up an oddly sweet read. The smaller, younger slug peers across the garden fence wistfully to see our titular hero tending to his leeks, whilst the older, fatter slug rambles on about the benefits of globalisation. It’s an image who’s message is succinct. The Corbyn Comic Book may not alter opinions on the Labour leader, but instead reinforces an image, a mentality, an ideal. In places, it also tugs at the heartstrings.