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Following the International Alternative Press Festival earlier this month, the publishing collective has just released the second effort from French cartoonist David Ziggy Greene. Where’s North from Here? comprises ten graphic shorts in sixty-four A4 pages populated by comically bulbous characters driven manic by odd compulsions and bizarre quests.
While Greene’s lines are wiry and his shading spare, each page bulges with content, with explosions of flailing limbs (usually dismembered) spilling onto the margins—see the motif of body parts which adorns the inside cover; and the contents page, in which the text is dwarfed by renderings of organs and intestines [below right]. The design and layout is impressive throughout, the best example being an expertly composed one-page tale of a fatal wrestling match. “Rubber Sandwich”, a crime yarn born from the gruesomely unorthodox use of a table tennis racket, is another well-crafted series of panels.
A number of the stories here feel slightly clipped and seem to have too little space to unfold, failing to deliver on early promise, and lacking satisfying resolutions despite intriguing set-ups. That said, there are two clear highlights in which Greene’s ambitions feel well realised. “Picacho del Diablo”, a grizzly tale centring on a bereaved woman intent on climbing a mountain after striking a deal with the ruler of the underworld, evidences a striking use of scale. The concluding story “Snow Trap” is a well formed mystery in which two record store employees’ attempts to redeem stole vinyl is hindered by a blizzard, and proves the collection’s most rewarding piece of graphic storytelling.
Elsewhere, shorter pieces provide visual gags and break up the book effectively, such as “Royal Rumble Rock n Roll Restling”. Scattered throughout the book are also four pages of drawings inspired by gigs the artist has attended; however, they don’t fare quite as well. Although they convey motion well through a raw, sketch-like quality, they feel a little out of place amongst the more refined and considered pieces.
Still, this is an undeniably confident and distinctive book. The surreal flights and dark humour, coupled with the unfettered imagination also evident in Greene’s 2010 collection Swimming with Shoes On and his Private Eye column, make Where’s North from Here? an enjoyable, if not wholly memorable, read.
Emily Cleaver is Litro's Online Editor. She is passionate about short stories and writes, reads and reviews them. Her own stories have been published in the London Lies anthology from Arachne Press, Paraxis, .Cent, The Mechanics’ Institute Review, One Eye Grey, and Smoke magazines, performed to audiences at Liars League, Stand Up Tragedy, WritLOUD, Tales of the Decongested and Spark London and broadcasted on Resonance FM and Pagan Radio. As a former manager of one of London’s oldest second-hand bookshops, she also blogs about old and obscure books. You can read her tiny true dramas about working in a secondhand bookshop at smallplays.com and see more of her writing at emilycleaver.net.