Monday, 24 April 2017

Dusty Sideboard #1

John Bagnall Dusty Sideboard #1 (2017)
I wouldn't ordinarily review a single issue of a comic book, there usually being a limit to what can be said about anything under thirty pages, but sometimes you have to make an exception and this is just such an occasion.

Dusty Sideboard is more of John Bagnall's highly-stylised exploration of something which isn't quite nostalgia, although it comes close. The art is, as always, very much its own language - as arrestingly timeless as any ancient Egyptian or Mexican mural, yet with the kind of warm silence which makes it possibly the closest visual analogy to the poetry of Ivor Cutler that I've seen. Bagnall explores the world of his youth - and my youth for that matter - but this is something quite different to Peter Kay tittering over spangles and Fireball XL5. Dusty Sideboard evokes a world which has almost entirely slipped away by this point, a world of social interaction, physical objects, and very little else because that was enough. It's affectionate - although pleasantly musty is probably the better term given the lack of sentiment, or at least excessive sentiment - and yet eschews the usual rose-tinted focus on collectibles to instead perfectly capture the atmosphere of a lost England, something I'd describe as the language of society as was if I weren't so worried about how pretentious that may sound. Bagnall's observations regarding jokes cracked by milkmen, apprenticeships, and tea dances are spot on and strangely moving, and a style of art one might imagine would be quite limited turns out to be extraordinarily expressive when required - sort of like Dan Clowes but without the cynicism; so no - it isn't quite nostalgia so much as the preservation of something seemingly inconsequential which should be remembered before it's gone entirely. I hope this is the first of many because it's one of the most powerful independent comics I think I've ever seen.

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