Posted by: Graeme McMillan on October 17, 2007
When I was back at home while on vacation, I had the misfortune of hearing the new Manic Street Preachers single, “Wintersong,” which is a pretty embarrassing proposition – Three middle-age men writing and playing a song where the entire point is “You’re young and beautiful, youth of the world, stay crazy,” in this slow, faux-epic manner that the Manics use. Hearing it was a strange experience; it sounds like a parody of the Manics, and came across (at least, to me; I’m sure this’ll get commentary from hardcore Manics fans who’re very, very upset that I don’t get their true majesty or whatever; sorry) as this desperate attempt to reach out to an audience that they know nothing about anymore. When middle-age spread has reached you, please don’t try and tell The Kids how awesome they are anymore, you know?
All of which is a preamble to telling you that Jamie McKelvie’s SUBURBAN GLAMOUR #1 is a great comic. I have no real idea about his age or his feelings about the new Manics single, but one of the reasons that this book worked so well for me is that it comes across as totally genuine and forced in the details of the teenaged main characters – the need and attempt to be both themselves and unusual in a town where nothing happens, and how that manifests in their parties, their conversations, their lives. With so much of the first issue taking place without the fantastical elements that will no doubt comprise the bulk of the series overall, you’re given enough time to get to know the characters in relation to each other, as opposed to in relation to magic and fairies and things that you could never relate to; a good point of comparison would be Mike Carey and John Bolton’s God Save The Queen graphic novel, which attempted a similar story with much less successful results, because it seemed so less true and honest than this does.
It helps that McKelvie’s script is as funny as it is, making even the somewhat predictable (at this point, at least, but that maybe because the pre-release interviews, etc., gave this much away) plot enjoyable to read nonetheless. His art, too, has moved on from when it appeared in Phonogram to become looser, more cartoonily emotional (in a good way); it’s also helped significantly by Guy Major’s colors, which play an important part in bringing it to life.
This comic isn’t for everyone; it may even just be for people who grew up in small towns with a sense of “There’s got to be more than this.” But as one of those people, and as someone who picked up this week’s books looking for something unexpected and upbeat, I have to tell you that I thought this was really Very Good.