You’ll no doubt remember we enthused somewhat about Stephen Collins’ debut, The Gigantic Beard that Was Evil. It was a graphic novel that felt substantial, and ruminative, and comic – whilst at the same time retaining a sweet, fantastical element that recalled writers as diverse as Edward Gorey, Dan Rhodes, Mick Jackson, Shelley Jackson and Mark Danielewski. Some Comics isn’t actually his follow-up proper, but rather a collection of all of the comics that he does sometimes on a weekly basis, sometimes reacting to the news, that appear in such things as the Guardian and Prospect Magazine.
What this amounts to is just over 100 strips (some of which are straightforwardly three panel – such as opener ‘Our Day In The Country Is Once Again Ruined By The Crocodile’ – and some of which are as complex as Chris Ware), a great many of which are laugh out loud funny. I know. I said it. Laugh out loud funny. Laugh out loud funny to the degree that you’ll either attract the attention of other people in the room who you will then show the book to for them to laugh out loud too – or to the degree that you’ll find yourself, semi-regularly, doing a demure show and tell (‘just read this one’).
Some (you can tell) come from day to day life (the baby who doesn’t really like The Fall, a strip about a dad explaining the universe to his boy); some arise, in a sort of zingy Tom Gauld fashion, from what he’s been commissioned to do; and some, some thrum with the offbeart surrealism of his debut (celebrity hairdos that never die, Leo Longarms 3D movie star, Mr Terror goes on holiday). There are jokes here in which the punchline arrives courtesy of the slow drift of clouds. Collins is truly adept at picking up on life as it is lived in order to flip it round and make a telling point (there’s a terrific strip in which a robin red breast perched upon a gnome has a go at a fellow passing by who doesn’t take a pic of it on his phone).
Some of these strips (I’m thinking of ‘My stuff chucked me out last year’) feel like short stories. Whether he’s satirising real folk (Michael Gove, Putin) or riffing on aliens (two large tripods find Tom Cruise cowering in a basement and discuss the similarity to that film in which Tom Cruise cowers in a basement hiding from aliens), Collins has a real knack for finding the comedic sweet spot (my favourite strip in the book might well be the one that features a blackbird singing, I like to move it, move it).
Some Comics actually feels medicinal. No matter how bad the world gets, no matter how much of a bad day you’ve been having, I’m sure there will be something here that raises a smile to the lips of the even the most curmudgeonly curmudgeon.
Any Cop?: Collins delivers the goods once again. We can’t wait to see what he turns up next.