Endangered and More Strange Stories

Daniel Clifford and Lee Robinson of Art Heroes have educated and enthused countless kids about comics over the last few years, running workshops at schools, libraries, and events. They rule.

Part of what makes them so effective as comics educators is the fact they're making great kids' comics themselves. Their first series, Halcyon and Tenderfoot, has recently been collected, and they've just published a brand new comic, Endangered and More Strange Stories, featuring three substantial standalone action-adventure tales in full colour. It is a smart piece of comic goodness, really polished, with clear attention to detail, and crucially, bursting with a tonne of fun ideas and fab Saturday-morning-cartoon-style art!

What's in the book? Time-travelling scientist heroes - CHECK! Derring-do wild west vigilantes - CHECK! Supernatural-mystery-solving kids - CHECK! Pigeon vicars - CHECK! What more do you need?!

I think my favourite section is Monster Book with its 'Byker Grove-meets-Scooby Do' vibes, but I couldn't resist trying to do a little doodle of The Outlaw outlining a new ingenious plan to his long-suffering sidekick for how they're going to foil local corruption.

No doubt it will involve  extreme danger.

Anyway, it's not clear whether Daniel and Lee will be tempted back to do more with any of these characters, but there's loads to enjoy in this issue for readers young and old.

Check out the Art Heroes website for more info about purchasing this fine comic or attending one of their workshops.

Verity Fair

Been meaning to do some more little fan art sketches/reviews and the release of the collected edition of Terry Wiley's Verity Fair seems an ideal prompt.

Verity Fair is great. It's also very difficult to explain why, as it pretty much defies categorisation. Approximately, it's a comedy-drama about a bit-part actress (the eponymous Verity) who has to deal with trying to get paying gigs whilst confronting unresolved issues in her past - but that doesn't really do it justice.

It's core strength is a foundation of engaging character interaction. Terry has a knack for judging characters and situations so that they're balanced between recognisably slice-of-life and quirkily oddball, and every scene is delivered with well-crafted dialogue, facial expressions and body language, so you're drawn in to whatever's happening - be that a drama at the casting agency, a  pseudo-'Never Mind The Buzzcocks' game show or a psychotherapy session.

It's also quite a formally experimental comic occasionally, happy to playfully muck about with the medium when the need arises - but always with purpose, so that it doesn't distract from the smooth delivery of the story.

Anyway, here's my attempt at sketching Verity, blasting out a show-tune fuelled by one too many celebratory cocktails after landing a gig.

Though she's supported by a fine cast of characters (linked to other excellent comics Terry has drawn in the past - Sleaze Castle, Surreal School Stories, Petra Etcetera), really its Verity's own charm as a character that pulls you through the book. She's loud and feisty but her depiction is full of nuance and depth, and it's hard not to warm to her.

In short: ... wait, no, as I've explained I CAN'T DO AN 'IN SHORT', Verity Fair is just good, and you should read it. It's available at all good comic shops, and digitally on the Sequential app.

For more info follow Terry Wiley on the Twitter.