Sunday, 7 October 2012

Comic Review : Short Sharp Shocks issues 1-3

 The title of Dublin writer and artist Ger Hankey’s ongoing anthology title Short Sharp Shocks seems to be trying to evoke the classic sci-fi excitement of Thargs Future Shocks (in the galaxy’s greatest comic), and while there are such one-off “thrills” to be found here (which, rather than trying to shock, seem more focused on amusing), the nucleus of the title is a pair of recurring characters with strong central ideas.
Hybrid, the story of a superhero who is both man and woman is a nice conceit, but for a character that has such obvious comedic potential it’s played relatively straight for the first three issues. It’s not without humour (which is chiefly wardrobe-based) but hopefully the full potential of the title character’s dual nature will be further explored in future issues, whilst exploring his origins. Speaking of which the second issue’s instalment ends with promises of an explanation of Hybrid’s origin, yet issue three consists of a fight with a robot then a shopping trip. What gives, Hankey?

Hybrid: Dont mess with shim.
Mighty Morgan plays with another interesting notion: that in our current cynical troll-infested society a traditional two-dimensional would-be despot is a beloved antihero (which he hates). This strip in particular put me in mind of some of the humour strips that would appear in the likes of Whizzer and Chips and Buster (in particular the reverse Beverly Hillbillies strip the Bumpkin Billionaires). A nice piece of harmless good-natured fun.

The strongest strips however are those that run without dialogue. In particular, Binbo’s Holiday is a very sweet tale about wanting to better oneself. That the main character is a robotic dustman is incidental. Much like the work of Bob Byrne, Hankey's characters are expressive in the extreme, and we can put it this way: the boy knows how to draw a robot in just about any mood (as his work on Transformers fan projects demonstrates very well indeed).

Short Sharp Shocks’ biggest strength is actually in stark contrast with many other small press publications whose artwork fails to live up to the writing. In Short Sharp Shocks the artwork is stronger than the writing. Which is not to say that the writing is particularly weak but rather that the black and white art is so strong. Having seen some of the work on Ger’s blog I would strongly suggest that issue four would be best served to be in colour (cost permitting I’m sure).The most pleasing aspect of the art is   the subtle changes in style depending on the content of the strip.

Overall the tone is much lighter than, say, 2000AD and really has more in common with publications like the later incarnations of The Eagle, or Wildcat: comics which have a similar theme but a much less cynical tone. Short Sharp Shocks is well written, very well drawn and refreshingly, entirely suitable for children.  Looking forward to issue four immensely.

You can buy Short Sharp Shocks here
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