Good Comics’ next slate of publishing is an eclectic collection of stories. Alongside the new Good Comics Reader, the four new comics released by the micropress publisher range from autobiography to a silent type of poetry, each showcasing diverse forms of comic. We caught up with the team at Good Comics – Sam Williams, Rozi Hathaway and Paddy Johnston – to hear a bit more about each title.
A Place To Hang Your Cape: LDN by RAMZEE is an anthology style comic framing stories around the different corners of London. What types of stories are these, and what view of London do you get with RAMZEE?
Sam: RAMZEE has a really unique way of looking at the world, and by telling stories from five different parts of London (North, East, South, West and City of London) in five different styles he’s truly bringing it to life. The stories range from heartbreak to adventuring kids, reflections on youth and stand up comedy. The view you get of London is of a vast and complex city, full of characters who are all unique and engaging. LDN is such an excellent read, we all absolutely love it.
AP2HYC: FML Comics by Natasha Natarajan is a collection of the cartoonist’s autobiographical comics from 2016-2020. What sort of insights do you get reading Natarajan’s comics in this compiled format, and how would you describe her voice to new readers?
Rozi: Natasha’s work is very raw and honest, and something she’s talked about a lot in relation to her upbringing and outlook on life. There’s everything from her innermost thoughts on sex to racism and everything in between, which is funny and touching at the same time. The way we’ve worked with Natasha to collect these stories up is to really show how unique her inner monologue is, and have these devastating moments next to an endearing joke between friends. The best way I can describe her voice to readers would be: candid, hilarious and very raw. That’s what makes it such a journey to read, and why I’m so glad we’re putting this out.
AP2HYC: Return by Niki Bañados presents her experiences moving back to Australia, but how would you describe this story? What sort of themes does Return tackle, and how does Bañados articulate these?
Rozi: Niki’s book is really interesting. She created Shivers about her move from Australia to the UK in 2015, which won the Laydeez Do Comics prize in 2019. In both setting and style Return and Shivers are quite different so far, but that’s the beautiful thing about Niki’s style of drawing – she’s so adaptable and really puts her experience on the page.
In Return, Niki looks at the nature around her as a coping and grounding mechanism, and this really comes through in the pages we’ve previewed so far. With beautiful hues and her delicate inking we can see how displaced she feels. This heartfelt connection to nature makes us feel like we’re alongside Niki in this familiar but new world she’s living in. At Good Comics we’ve adored Niki’s work for a while, and we’re so thrilled to be publishing it at last.
AP2HYC: Fishes May Come Back by Emre Altındağ sounds truly unique, even among other silent comics, and the pages I’ve seen are stunning. What sort of story does Altındağ tell in Fishes May Come Back, and why tell it this way?
Paddy: Unique is definitely the right word for it. I still have a vivid memory of the first time I read it, after he’d submitted it to us, and thinking how unlike anything else I’d ever read it was, let alone anything we had published. It’s essentially a story about a boy and an old man working together and reflecting on the passage of time, but I like to say that it’s a story about the body and the soul. I’m sure it could be told with words, but it would be a very different narrative and wouldn’t offer the same space for reflection and it wouldn’t have the same poetic quality.
I think you can lose yourself in the pages of a silent comic like this in a way that you can’t when there’s a textual narrative pulling you through the pages. It’s a comic that wants you to look at it really deeply and to get philosophical about it, and about life. I think it’s a work that’s really open to interpretation, and I expect a lot of different reactions and responses to it from our readers. It’s a challenging work, but it’s so different to everything else we’ve done and to the other books in the Kickstarter, and I’m really proud of it.
AP2HYC: The talent showcased in The Good Comics Reader #2 is important, and it sounds a fun read – every story begins with ‘It was a dark and stormy night…’ What conversations did you have when deciding how to approach this edition of the Reader? And what type of work can we expect to see on display?
All: The intention of the first reader was to give people a taste of what we do at Good Comics, and to showcase the talent of all the great people we work with. We wanted to do the same with the second reader, but also to simplify things a little and give people a constraint. You know what they say about necessity being the mother of invention and all that. And we thought we’d give a creative constraint rather than a technical one (though obviously there are length and size requirements).
We’ve had some of the artwork in already and we’re pleased to be able to say at this stage that the constraint is really bringing out the unique quality of each contributor’s art and their approach to storytelling, which is ultimately the aim of the reader: to showcase the breadth of talent we have in our stable, but also to celebrate what comics can be and what comics can do.