Comics Features Reviews

The Nib #5 Makes Comics Journalism Bright & Conversational

The Nib has always prioritised its political discourse be delivered in an engaging and vibrant manner without compromising on the seriousness of its journalism. Its ongoing flagship comic of the same name collates together its focus on comics, political commentary, satire and journalism into a compact, visually witty package and issue #5, Animals, contains a rapid-fire selection of humour, sadness and more that casts a judgemental eye over humanity’s control of nature. Animals bursts with a wealth of insightful journalism and varied cartoonists who all adhere to The Nib‘s bright, conversationalist leanings. A more cohesive structure would have benefited new readers who aren’t already familiar with The Nib‘s output, but it remains a well-put together anthology, nonetheless.

The diversity and personality within Animals‘ journalism is what makes The Nib‘s fifth issue all the more substantial. Topics range from a former Guantanamo prisoner recounting how seeing animals outside of the prison kept him going, the problematic toxic masculinity engrained in bullfighting, the racist history behind Mickey Mouse and a house supposedly haunted by a spiritual mongoose. Some of these stories are brought to life via two-page spreads that leaves their subject matter just as they start to get interesting, leaving you wanting to discover more, whilst longer features range from 6 to 12 pages and offer a richer delivery of their stories. The Nib compartmentalises its content this way throughout, but elsewhere it’s a little tough to follow.

Journalistic content often blends together with comic strips, adverts and other one-page features peppered throughout the comic. The end result is a somewhat rambling art direction that doesn’t always succeed in alerting the reader to knowing where one section ends and another begins. The flip side of this logic however is that each section has an eye-catching visual flavour. As mentioned, accessibility is key to The Nib‘s creative success. No matter how distraught or uncompromising the stories themselves may be, The Animals Issue communicates its journalism with a warm playfulness colour and shape to its illustrations that makes its content all the more inviting.

Whilst it’s debatable how suitable that style is to some of the more stern, straight-faced stories in Animals‘, it gives the comic a cohesive visual stamp and provides the reader with a welcome opening to some particularly difficult stories. Arwen Donahue‘s Bleating Heart is a particularly humanist yet savage look at America’s rapidly growing fondness for consuming goat meat, whilst Dorian Alexander, Sara Mirk and Levi HastingsStealing Rainbows is a downbeat yet vital examination of illegal trafficking of parrots that encapsulates humanity’s gluttonous love for controlling nature.

Animals spreads its reach to numerous taboo topics in the animal kingdom, but also several jovial and light-hearted pieces scattered throughout give the issue a welcome balance of positive and negative aspects of human’s grip over animals. A firmer grip on the overall structure of the comic would have been welcome, but the content is what makes you stay and ultimately stays in your mind long after reading. The Nib‘s fifth outing of its politically-themed comics in print form is a highly recommended collection of sequential journalism.

You can discover more about Animals along with The Nib‘s other political comics output via their website. Do you already enjoy their regular output of material in print and online? Let us know in the comments section below or send us a Tweet!

About the author

Fred McNamara