Black Crown/IDW Publishing 2019
Written by David Barnett
Illustrated by Martin Simmonds
Colour Flatting by Dee Cunniffe
Lettered by Aditya Bidikar
In the spirit of awkward house calls, Fergie and Sid’s urgent quest for Fergie’s long-absent father finds them holed up in a dilapidated London boozer… where they meet some unwelcome old enemies and make an interesting new friend. Back in Preston, Dorothy Culpepper of The Department of Extra-Usual Affairs gets a proper wallop and Fergie’s mom Julie and kinda-girlfriend Natalie end up with blood on their hands. The spirit of ’77 is alive by night with power chords and psychic grenades in London Calling: “To the Faraway Towns.”
This is one of those series that really comes at you and takes you but complete surprise with not only how innovative and different it is but also just how imaginative and creative it is as well. This is one of the absolute best ghost story style stories that defies the genre and is what Men In Black wanted to be but couldn’t achieve. Let’s face it Sid really is one of those people, like Bettie Page, who we knew but didn’t know and the jury is still out on how much but hey that’s okay. Because in all honesty it’s more fun to imagine based on what we know rather than not assume anything at all.
I love what David is doing with this. It is more than just Fergie and Sid there’s Fergie’s mom and Natalie who have their own troubles plus we’ve got Dorothy and Asif as well. There are also some fringe elements that are also in play so essentially the layered story arcs that will possibly cross paths at some unknown and undisclosed time and location make for some truly interesting moments. The fact that this many different yet related arcs are happening simultaneously and are integral to one another showcases this ability, see talent, for being able to write and keep things going without the reader ever forgetting what is going on at any moment. It is one of those talents to have too and this ties into the characterisation as well because each of the people that we have met and continue to meet is fleshed out beautifully so that they are continually growing and evolving as people.
The interiors here really are beautiful. I love Dee and the work he does and though he’s only flatting here gotta say the contribution is greatly appreciated. I have to say that I am cannot get over the strength of the linework here. If Dorothy isn’t some immortal monster who sold her soul a long time ago I would be completely surprised but then the lines we see in her face are where most the character comes into play and it’s both gorgeous and hideous. There is this wild creativity and imagination here and not just in the characters or the setting but in how we see page layouts and the angles and perspective in the panels as well. Granted I want a lot more backgrounds but somehow the way the visuals work I'm not sure that’s actually possible.
Now there are few things that I am more than I thought I would and seeing and hearing the dialogue between Asir and his boyfriend is among them. The relationships that are going on here have been extremely entertaining and as twisted as they are I look forward to seeing where they lead next. I mean Fergie has more game than he realises and while it seems he’s got nothing going for him, he sees it that way, and while I would love to see him take a dude up on an offer he’s the almost perfect kind of clueless.
With bold, innovative storytelling in both words and visuals this is what storytelling should be all about.