A Review Asks Only Whether One Can Live With It Or Die Of It

I've been reviewing small press publications on www.bugpowder.com for a few years now. Totemic small presser Andy Luke recruited me; he'd been impressed with my essay, Closing Shots From A Grassy Knoll, and was convinced that I could restore some cheer to the reviews section.

Ostensibly a scoff-mixture, Closing Shots From A Grassy Knoll discusses the pathogenic presence in UK small press of comics creators eager to produce work sterilized by an ambition to be adaptable to the strictures of an intrusive company bent on 'product development', and who derive a vanity-buzz of satisfaction from tucking themselves into deadlines and knocked-off scripts. "This budding hack is fuelled by little more than the desperation for a sense of celebrity," I wrote, "and must be destroyed."

My muscular reviewing-style grated with small press enthusiasts' indulgence in self-satisfied congeniality and writer/artist shape-throwing, but I refused to conveniently dismiss creators with throwaway compliments, employing instead a reviewing discipline based on four simple tenets: 1, perspective is to be achieved; 2, the standards by which one is judging the work are to be made clear; 3, credit is to be given where it is due; and 4, one should not be such a fucking misanthrope, you above-being-human narcissist.

Regularly achieving three of the four principles with my aesthetic evaluations, and quickly developing an obsessive-compulsive urgency for production of symmetrically paragraphed reviews, the meaningless absurdity of opinionative writing soon revealed itself to me. I was not deterred.

John Robbins

Daddy's Rules

Posted on July 29, 2006

When a leafy, suburban tranquillity is disturbed by Carole Morton - the cruel teenage daughter of newly arrived neighbours-from-hell - it comes as no surprise to our ten year-old narrator that her mother begins receiving prank phone calls. One egged-car and stolen Kylie-disc later, the anti-social behaviour escalates and polite protest fails to remedy the situation. There's only one thing for it: closed curtains must be opened – it's time to introduce the Mortons to the Mansons!

The first title from V1 Comics, an imprint of Aeon Press, Daddy's Rules is crafted by Bob Neilson, writer of The Big Fellow and Father Further Investigates, and by artist Carlos Devisia. Resembling a Misty pastiche for the most part – "Your headmaster will hear of this!" – it retains a light tone even when awkwardly toppling into slasher-genre fare, and may prove an agreeable, if unremarkable, distraction to those new to – or not yet jaded by – standard-issue shockers.

US size, 32 pages, £2.50 / €3.50 - available from www.albedo1.com