Posts Tagged ‘Viz’

Cyclists in comic form

August 30, 2013

Here are two very different comic strips I’ve enjoyed recently, both of them featuring cycling. The first is how many of us would probably like to see ourselves – a glorious phalanx of wheels and whimsy enveloping an entire city – and the other is a chuckle at the grim reality.

I’ve been meaning to write about Bicycle by Ugo Gattoni since Jen gave it to me for my birthday a couple of months ago. Inspired by the 2012 Olympics, this dialogue-free strip is a lurching cityscape featuring a bike race, drawn in a rambunctious, surreal and heavily-detailed style. I guess you might call it Richard Scarry meets Hieronymus Bosch – or you might not if, unlike me, you have a thorough working knowledge of the visual arts.

It comes in a folder and opens out into a long, double-sided poster.

bicycle gattoni open

The sprawling journey is anchored around real landmarks – Big Ben, the London Eye, Regent Street and so on – while the smaller places appear to be made up (Gattoni, who is a Frenchman, has populated his version of Britain’s capital with fictional French shops). I can spot only two references that are the exception to this rule: Nobrow, the publisher of Bicycle, and Look Mum No Hands!, which has an advertisement in a version of the cafe’s distinctive cursive script stuck on the side of the Olympic Stadium.

bicycle gattoni look mum

That gave me a kick. It’s like when Pulp did a song about Bar Italia – you have an indication that a place has left some sort of a mark on the cultural consciousness when it’s referenced in a creative work. Or maybe the Look Mum fellas simply bunged Ugo a few Euros for a plug. Obviously, I prefer the former explanation.

The second strip I’ve come across is two pages in the latest issue of the peerless Viz. In Cockney Wanker, the eponymous cabbie flies into a panic after he runs over a female cyclist. “Is she orwight?” worried Wanker asks his mate Barstard…

viz cockney wanker crash

…before it’s revealed that the “she” he’s concerned about is his beloved black cab.

viz cockney wanker cab

This isn’t really satire or any serious attempt to make a social point. The joy of Viz is watching how the narratives push the already ridiculous characters into ever-more ludicrous extremes. In this case, Wanker gets the injured cyclist to pay for the damage to his vehicle by taking her card out of her handbag and running it through his PDQ.

viz cockney wanker pdq


The Dynamighty No.4: A Confederacy Of Dunces

February 6, 2011

I think we all agree that it’s impossible to define objectively what is and isn’t funny, yes? Well, no, actually, let’s not agree that is the case at all, because the only reason why you wouldn’t concur with the notion that A Confederacy Of Dunces is the absolute pinnacle of funniness is because you haven’t got round to reading it yet. Absurd, filthy, wise and true, this is, quite simply, the holy grail of comic novels. Plot-wise, nothing much actually happens: Ignatius J. Reilly, a kind of grown-up version of Spoilt Bastard from Viz but with an enormous scholarly intellect that matches the scale of his girth, self-delusion and flatulency, unwittingly changes the lives of those he encounters as he wanders quixotically from one dead-end job to the other. The real magic is in the dialogue, which revels in the peculiarities of the New Orleans accent as much as Ignatius indulges his horrified fascination with popular culture and the morality of others. And I think we all, at times, have felt a similar kind of splenetic outrage to Ignatius. Or is that just me?

Anyway, ignore the background stories that have enveloped this novel – the tragic death of its author John Kennedy Toole, the movie industry leaving the screen adaptation stranded in development hell for more than 30 years – and simply buy it, read, and laugh like you have never laughed before. There is no other book like it.