Shiny Shelf

Suburban Glamour

By Mags L Halliday on 08 June 2008

Small towns in the UK are pretty much the same all over. The same little indie gang, the same sort of parties, the same boredom. ‘Suburban Glamour’ captures all of that, and throws in a fantastical escape route as well.

Astrid is a typical teenager in a Worcestershire town: she goes to school, hangs out with mates, gets called emo by the town dickheads. But then, with her seventeenth birthday approaching, her childhood invisible friends return, a fascinating rockabilly chick moves to town, and there’s something very nasty in the woods.

A lot of high school comics start when the new girl arrives in town, so having Astrid already in place, with established friends and enemies, is a refreshing change. The basic premise of the plot is not a new one – someone who feels like an outsider discovers that they are – and will chime well with anyone who dreamt of escaping the dull reality of small town life. It’s the details of that life which work, though, and are so recognisably English. Astrid tells the career officer that she wants to become a musician or a music journalist, and he instead suggests the civil service – a classic moment of dream-squashing.

What I particularly like about Jamie McKelvie’s ‘Suburban Glamour’ is his artwork. There’s a very strong design style here, strongly reminiscent of ‘The Face’ and other 80s iconography, with bold blocks of colour and deep lines outlining characters. The style, which could easily be overbearing, instead enhances the narrative, allowing sections to be told without dialogue.

It’s worth picking up, especially if you come from a seaside town that forgot to close down.

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