Graphic Novel/Comics Review

The Originals

(2004) Dave Gibbons, Titan Books, 17.99, hrdbk, 154pp, ISBN 1-840-23696-5

This black and white graphic novel is done in a retro-futuristic style, transplanting mods and rockers into a near future, complete with hover bikes. The whole thing is a Quadrophenia-like, teenage wish-fulfilment fantasy of joining up with a gang, the mod Originals of the title, taking drugs, dancing, finding a girlfriend, selling drugs, and the mass punch-ups of mods vs. rockers (The Dirt) transported from Brighton beach to a reservoir cum water leisure complex. The main character 'grows up' a bit along the way as he reaches his eighteenth birthday, but not much. It's lovely to look at, though more in some places than others, and the writing is relatively crisp, with good pacing through the combination of panels and text per page, all of which is no more than we should expect of someone with Gibbon's experience and talent. The trouble is that it's all a bit lightweight, overlong for the simple plot, and somewhat overpriced (though hopefully a cheaper trade paperback will be released at some point in the near future). I'm always happy to recommend Dave's work, but this could be disappointing if you were influenced by all the pre-publication hype. Some of the sting might be taken out if a cheap version does become available, but at this cover price you'd have every right to feel cheated. I guess it all depends on how much of a Dave Gibbons fan you are...?

Tony Chester

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