Porcelain: A Gothic Fairy Tale. (issue 1).
Writer - Benjamin Read.
Art - Chris Wildgoose.
Lettering - Jim Campbell.
Published by Improper Books www.improperbooks.com
So people. What did you think of KAPOW this year. I have to say that we had a great time and met some very cool people.
Whilst sitting with a couple of pals I had the pleasure of being introduced to Chris Wildgoose (genuinely his name - or so he tells me). Sitting with the comics fans and cosplayers we had a good chat and he is a very amusing and talented individual (and not the shortest man at the convention!) I bought from him his new book Porcelain.
Porcelain is a book that straddles the line between horror and fairy tale. It follows the adventures of a young female dirty faced street urchin who climbs the wall into a grand stately home to steal so that she and her companions can eat. She is immediately detained by the owner and Lord of the Manor who we later come to call 'Uncle'.
Uncle is the creator of the aforementioned 'Porcelain' who are some kind of animated puppets who act as guards and servants for the rich of this world. It would appear that Uncle has amassed his wealth through inventing and manufacturing these creatures. He takes pity on the young thief and asks her to live with him as his ward.
Upon a tour of the grounds we see the factory where Uncle creates his creatures. We learn some of the secret that they seem (at least partly) formed from the bones and bodies of the dead. He warns his new ward that there is one room she must never look into. (Some great foreshadowing here when she says 'I've got a, a acquiring mind.') The issue ends with Uncle handing the girl a porcelain dog she names Mr. Ruffles.
The book at first glance seems to have a strong Fables feel to it but upon reading it you can easily see has it's own original and (mostly) different approach to that Vertigo book. It's focus for starters is fixed on the two main characters. They are both engaging and (perhaps) innocent in their own ways. The book has a gritty harshness to it that counterpoints the beautiful artwork.
Chris has done a stand out job on this book. His art looks great in black and white and reminds me of Jeff Smith on Bone. The world of Porcelain is surrounded by atmospheric softly falling snow. Chris is accomplished in the architecture and the surrounding world but where he really shines for me is in the faces of the characters. Their reactions and personalities are reflected through the moments in the story.
But let's not forget the story and dialogue. Ben's sharp talking thief has real depth and he throws little nuggets of accent into her speech. Let's face it, what other comic book can you hear someone say 'squidfart'? This is no gentle fairy tale. This is a beautiful world with sharp edges. We hear word of a 'body market.' We see a child crushing the bones of humans so that servants can be created for the wealthy. It has a dangerous dystopian caste system transferred from a book like Brave New World. The underclass in this case suffer underfoot. The book says 'there are secrets' and 'wait until you see what we have planned.' The cheapness of life and the suddenness of violence shown in the attack by the Constable is at sharp contrast to a fairy tale / Disney setting.
Did someone say Soylent Green?
I am more than happy with my signed copy. Pick it up.
Benjamin Read - http://www.benjaminread.co.uk
Chris Wildgoose - http://www.christianwildgoose.blogspot.co.uk
Jim Campbell - http://www.jimcampbell-lettering.com
Improper Books - http://improperbooks.com