Sunday, 9 June 2013

Professor Elemental issue 2 [comics]

He's back! The second issue of the Professor Elemental comic is now out. I bought my issue at the Steamcheese Frome Steampunk Extravaganza, but was too shy to stalk down the Prof and get him to sign it. Still, I have it, and it's even better than issue 1. When I reviewed Professor Elemental comic issue 1, I commented that it felt like a good-quality item. Well, this one feels even nicer. The cover is thick and glossy, and the pages are in a pleasingly heavy paper stock. (My day job's in publishing; I love getting something printed on nice paper. It makes you feel good about an item before you even begin reading it.)


There are a lot of very short stories crammed into the 50-odd pages – nine this time, plus single-page pin-up pics. While the stories are incredibly brief, in a way they remind me of the classic short horror stories of yesteryear. Do you remember the Pan Books of Horror, or Roald Dahl's Tales of the Unexpected? Most of the stories in Professor Elemental issue 2 have that sort of twist in the final frame or two, wrapping each little narrative up neatly. Chris Mole wrote most of them, although my favourite was 'The Case of Aunt Fanny's Horn', written by Paul Alborough. It's a little more sinister than the others, so perhaps that's why I like it best, having loved those aforementioned short horror stories. None of the stories are especially scary, though, not even 'The Case of Aunt Fanny's Horn', so this volume would also be suitable for younger readers.

What I'd really like to see is the wit and fun of the short stories put into a longer narrative. The final story, 'Funding Trouble', ends with a nod to HG Wells, and the words 'To be continued'. I hope this is carried on. The character of Professor Elemental is part Dr Moreau, part Norman Wisdom,  and I do like the fact that the stories don't have to join up, that the writers are free to place him in one bizarre situation after another. What the character does in one song or story doesn't become part of some concrete, never-changing mythos. However, a more involved storyline with a more involved plot than a twist at the end wouldn't go amiss, it doesn't have to form some definitive history for the Prof.

I'll definitely be buying the third volume (I expect there will be one). These are lovely little comics (and would make great presents for boys at that age when they're difficult to buy for – get one and sling a tenner in it, you'll be his favourite grown-up!) You can buy them online from the Professor Elemental website.

I've reviewed a few other comics. Click on the 'Comics' label in the cloud (right) to see the others. Or you could click on 'Steampunk' if that's your bag of cogs.

Disclaimer: I bought my comic and paid for it in full. No money has exchanged hands for this review. The Prof was looking for people to review it, but I was planning to do it anyway, and wouldn't have written it any differently if he hadn't been looking.

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