this-damned-bandA period piece by writer Paul Cornell and artist Tony Parker follows a British rock band ‘Motherfather’ in the middle of their 1974 world tour. The setup is that a documentary crew are shadowing the band and interviewing the members, groupies and management. Beginning with their sellout shows in Japan’s Budokan arena the story then follows them through back stage antics, tour buses, private planes, hired mansions and recording studios.

Due to  the documentary format of the narrative, this framework allows the artist to experiment with a number of different styles. For example there are segments that have the heading “Our camera was not present at the following scenes, which are represented by artwork depicting the testimony of the band.” Also, “This sequence was shot on super 8 and was provided to the production much later.” At these intervals the story is then played out in different artistic (and sometimes recurring) styles and it’s a very interesting and unique approach to take.  

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As well as the familiar Spinal Tap-esque comedic moments involving rock star excess, the story allows itself to be taken into surreal areas due to hallucinogenic drug trips and dabbling in the supernatural. The band’s gimmick is that they’re a Satan worshiping occult group, and the lines are continuously blurred between reality and the mystical.

Published by Dark Horse, the series was 6 issues long, the first being released in August 2015, and the collective work was released a year later. In an age where comic books are spilling over into the mainstream and are very superhero / universe expansion driven, it’s really refreshing to read a book that’s completely original and also feels distinctly British. The dialogue is littered with British slang and swear words and in no part does it feel cliched or forced. The naturalistic writing adds to the humour and is juxtaposed brilliantly with the more surreal elements of the story.

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