Australasian Comic reviews by Philip Bentley
Oi Oi Oi ! #2 (ComicOz, 2014)
As stated previously it is not my intention to run repeat reviews of ongoing series every time a new issue is released. Having explored the work as initially presented my preference is then to allow it to find its own way out of the harsh light of constant critiquing. However Matt has specifically asked me to review this issue so here goes…
The first issue of this newsagent distributed anthology presented a wide variety of strips, that whilst often individually excellent, to my eyes, failed to jell as a whole. This issue delivers a much more cohesive selection, even if I don’t feel they reach the heights that some of the former issue’s strips did in isolation
Some may attribute this greater cohesion to the fact that all contributors are women, but that seems a fairly fatuous proposal – all bar one of the creators in the first issue were men and there was no apparent concord. Instead the cohesion appears to be fostered by there being a more harmonious mix of styles and stories, and also via some thematic and narrative linkages – a number of the strips are wordless, or largely so, and the theme of metamorphosis/rebirth is evident. But that an entire issue is capable of being filled with quality strips by women is still worthy of note. For much of the last century most comic readers and creators, both here and overseas, were men. So this move does indicate a significant and welcome shift.
The two stand out strips for me are Madeleine Karutz’s untitled opening story and Scarlette Baccini’s “Bug”, as it would happen the two wordless contributions. A wordless strip is generally more challenging to produce, but both these creators pull it off effectively presenting some evocative scenes. Alisha Jade’s “Seven” shows promise and demonstrates a pleasing art style, but given it is but chapter one of part one it is hard to be sure on the story. The other strips are by, Caitlin Major, Sarah Firth and Mel Stringer, with the latter’s fairly naïve style being at bit at odds with the rest of the work, and not as well-realised as some other strips I have seen by her. Kudos also to Lesley Vamos for a nicely delineated cover, even if I fear it is too lacking in a dominant feature to fully fulfil its purpose.
But in case all this has been seen as a disincentive to purchasing let me be clear in stating that despite my reservations about some elements, on average I find both issues to be of decent quality and certainly worth picking up. Merely from a monetary point of view $8 for six or seven quality strips is a steal. And a point that I neglected to mention above is that half this issue’s 36pp is in full colour for no extra cost. (It is particularly well-utilised by Baccini; not so sure that Major makes as good use of it.) You may not like every strip but that’s part and parcel of the anthology experience. But you may also find you end up liking work you wouldn’t otherwise have read.
Oi Oi Oi! #2 is currently available in bookshops and newsagents across Australia as well as from the ComicOz online store.