Friday, 5 April 2013

Review Month - Department of the Peculiar - Issue 1.

Department of the Peculiar - Issue 1.

Written by Rol Hirst.
Art by Rob Wells.

Self Published.

This is the first of the small press titles that have come my way since starting this nightmare of a review a day for a month. It was given to me as a suggestion by my LCS at Chaos City Comics in St Albans. ( They also stock this issue and the second issue (as well as loads of other comicsy stuff - yeah).

The book is written by Rol Hirst who is a veteran of the UK Small Press scene.  (You know those guys that sit about in a room at Bristol every year being ignored but never failing to have bags of enthusiasm. - I know because I used to be one of them.) The art is done by Rob Wells who I met oh so briefly at the recent London Super Comic Convention.

To give Rob his due credit the cover to issue 1 is very eye catching and has a certain punk crossed with the X-Files iconic flavour to it. It does what all good covers should do in that it implies story beats but is dramatic and individual. (issue 2 if you get hold of it has a 'Kitty Pryde Welcome to the X-Men....' vibe to it. Pretty snazzy).

The story itself is a British X-Files of a type.  The characters are as follows.

Malcolm Drake - Manipulator / Bald / American.

Lisa Cole - Boss / Speccy / Blokes chin.

Karine Murdoch - Psychic / Bit dumpy.

They are all of them (in varying degrees of involvement) members of The Department of the Peculiar and are kind of a psychic warning system for threats to the UK. Attached to this warning centre are field agents like Malcolm. (who is also a bit of a creepy mystery).

The villain seems to centre around the evil of food preservatives and to be honest looks like he is covered in spunk (genuinely). Not that this is something I have come across a lot in real life (so far). He is kind of an overweight spunky Punisher who is on a crusade against MSG.

The book is fun and rattles along. But I am left with a feeling that I have seen all this sort of thing before.  In fact I know I have seen this sort of thing - every year at Bristol. The art manages a level of story telling but does seem to be a never ending series of front facing faces that often hardly change.

I applaud anyone putting out a self published book these days and I genuinely wish them well but it needs a bigger edge and a bigger design input. I put it down feeling like it was a small press book put together in the 1980s. More photocopier than photoshop.   


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