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Saturday, 20 October 2012

The Peckham House for Invalids

Story & Script: Howard Hardiman
Script, Line Art & Colour: Sarah Gordon
Cover art: Julia Scheele
Publisher: Self published

This will not be a full review as we're looking at only 1 issue here, but it's that good I just want to gush about it!

From the website:
In 1906, as Britain surges on a tide of industrialisation driven by the brave innovations of the boldest and the best, Ms York has opened the doors of her modest home in Peckham. A group of poor, young, ill-educated, disabled and abandoned girls found their way to her and under her auspices are learning about the power they have feared the most in the world of oppression and stark inequality: their own. The Peckham Invalids is a comic about disabled teenage superheroines in 1906 Peckham from Howard Hardiman, Julia Scheele, Sarah Gordon and friends.

This is the second issue of the Peckham House for Invalids - the first is sold out.  The Cooperage is about Emily, a Deaf girl, and how she came to the House.  I really can't say much more about the events in the issue or I'll spoil it, but I can say that I loved it!

Hardiman is a good writer and plots the story well - this is evident from both issues of Peckham Invalids and from his other work, The Lengths (there will be a review for that coming up later this week).  What makes this issue outstanding (and far better than a lot of the mainstream superhero comics I've read lately) is the art. 

This is the first page.  It's got a seaside, holiday feel to it, and reminds me of Bande Dessinee style comics.   The sense of movement within the pencil lines and the colours seems very (continental) European.  Although it's a busy scene, it has a calm and happy feel to it (at least I think so).  There's really three different scenes on this page, but Gordon has blended them seamlessly, so they all fit together.  The composition is terrific.

And here's where I have to start apologising for the quality of the images - they are photographs as I don't have a scanner at home.  Hence the light and awkward angle of some of them.

This picture really doesn't do the colours justice.  In reality this is a really vivid page with bright, bold primary colours.  The choice in layout and panel shapes is perfect in getting across the frenzy of the attack.  With no words, the art does the storytelling - and does it well.

This is the last page I shall show you.  It shows Emily at home, at the moment when a friend arrives.  Emily and her friend communicate in sign language, and Gordon has tried to show this by the character's handshapes and movements.  Given that you cannot show sign languages in two dimensional, unmoving pictures, this is a an admirable attempt.  Again, it's far better than I've seen in any mainstream comics with Deaf characters.

The final thing for me to say is about the quality of the paper used.  It's thick, with a cardboardy cover and is quite durable.  Another lovely change from mainstream comics.

I really hope I've convinced some of you to buy this.  The issue is priced at £5 and is you can buy it here.

For more information on the creators, see these links:
See Howard Hardiman's website here.
See Sarah Gordon's website here.
See Julia Scheele's website here.

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