Blab! Volume 1

By Various
Publisher: Dark Horse
ISBN: 9781506735245

Well, what a mixed bag this is. It may be an anthology title, and that, by definition can incorporate many things, but this, unfortunately, feels like a lot of filler.

I’ll start with the good bits. Noah Van Scriver gets two bites at the cherry here offering a pair of true-life tales. It’s clear why they’ve put him first, because his contributions are easily the most satisfying of the bunch on offer. The first tale, a biography of artist Louis Wain, is as heart-wrenching as it is fascinating. The second, following the careers of Charles Biro and Bob Wood’s escapades in the pre-Code comics industry, is a genuine eye-opener – I had to check it wasn’t fiction. Greg Clarke’s The Typephiliac, Giselle Potter’s look at Beatrix Potter and the Simon and Schuster story by Monte Beauchamp are all worth the admission too.

What doesn’t work so well is a huge swathe of gargantuan gorilla-themed pages that mix forgotten comic covers and characters with a written piece connecting the dots. This is where the filler comes in. Page after page of large reproductions certainly shows off the artwork nicely, but to what end? The text doesn’t seem to help, blown up to a ridiculous point size, and with, at one point, a science-illiterate angle that borders on laughable. Somewhere amongst all this is a worthy exploration of the big ape, but it does not justify this many pages.

The rest falls between the two stools of mildly interesting reproduction (old comic adverts peppered throughout) and some prose that didn’t capture my attention.

The strips are what work – the rest felt like a disappointment, perhaps because this cost me £19. Not sure I’d buy another, even if Noah Van Sciver was in it again.

And if you liked that: Check out Noah Van Scriver’s recent book

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