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A Review By: Page 45

Stephen L. Holland is the co-founder, with Mark Simpson (1968-2005), of the Nottingham-based Page 45, one of the UK’s leading comic retail outlets.

The Leather Nun And Other Incredibly Strange Comics (£9-99) by Paul Gravett and Peter Stansbury. Did Paul show you his preview copy? The cover alone is a story in itself (clue: look at what each character is reading). Peter and Paul have trawled the outer reaches of comicbook insanity to bring you the strangest comics in the world, and then treat you with their masterfully mischievous commentary. Paul asked me for ideas last year and I offered up what I thought were sterling examples of marble-free miscreants imposing their mentalism upon us, but every one was rejected as being “not strange enough “! Well, he was right. See for yourself what it takes to be stranger than the fiction I could come up with. Case in point, HOW TO SHOOT, a comic published by the Remington Arms Company, proudly boasting on the cover: “Remington rifles helped blaze the trail to America’s glory.” They probably played a role in the murder rate over the last few decades as well. Unsurprisingly it’s one long overt weapons pitch aimed at readers old and young, and would therefore only just have got past ex-cabinet minister Robin Cooke and his ethical arms policy. As our editors here also point out, “To many, the glazed smiles of those armed youngsters on the cover seem less reassuring 50 years on, in this post-Columbine era.” And to others like Sarah Palin they probably just look perky and purty as heck. A lot of the culprits here owe their inclusion to politics - racial, sexual and otherwise - having moved on some since their original publications, but still you’ll be wondering, “Whatever were they thinking?!”. My favourite here, however, remains the one we used to sell when available, LONGSHOT COMICS, an epic 90-year family saga told in 160 panels per page, and starring a cast of dots. Well, the cast are represented as dots, and it’s a testament to Shane Simmons’ craft that you are not once confused as to who is saying what to whom. It is hilarious, and the page reprinted here - about a woman bred to death leaving the household at the mercy of their oblivious father - is a perfect example of Shane’s comedic timing. Pick up a copy when you’re next browsing and treat yourself to that page at least.


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My Books

Comics Art by Paul Gravett from Tate Publishing

Comics Unmasked by Paul Gravett and John Harris Dunning from The British Library

1001 Comics  You Must Read Before You Die edited by Paul Gravett

All contents © Paul Gravett, except where noted.
All artwork © the respective copyright holders.