The latest graphic debut to be issued from Random House isn’t a million miles away from a title they issued last year – The House that Groaned by Karrie Fransman. Let’s say it’s within walking distance. The books are neighbours. As with Fransman’s book, Montague Terrace concerns a property and tells the loosely interlinked stories of several characters at said residence. Where Fransman’s art was somewhat fantastical, brightly coloured, some would go as far as to say garish, the art of Montague Terrace is stripped back, black and white, 2000AD like.
Subsequent to a short introduction in which we see the construction of the eponymous building, we are thrust into the slightly off kilter world of Paul Gregory, a Scott Walker-ish figure who is living something of a desperate life, drug addicted, haunted by dreams of fame that we sense may have been fleeting at best and in some respects a victim of his own vanity (the Pleece brothers use Gregory without as a person caught up in other stories, always in transit, never at rest). Gregory is followed by possibly delusional super villains, frail former spies (whose tales recall nothing so much as the easily smudged copies of Battle I used to get given as a kid), magic rabbits, well meaning teachers and egotistical celebrity writers.
There are attempts to create a sense that these loosely connected stories form a graphic whole rather than an assortment of good and average tales – the Pleeces are better at ever so skewed reality than they are at the truly fantastical (this reader rolled an eye at the captain steering the building through a storm) – but there is definitely promise and potential here. Readers of early Alan Moore and Jake Arnott will find much here that whets the appetite for whatever the Pleece boys get up to next.
Any Cop?: Chalk this one up as one to watch. Not wholly satisfying, not entirely successful, and yet for all that definitely interesting…