Phonogram: The Singles Club #2
Written by Kieron Gillen
Art by Jamie McKelvie and Matthew Wilson
Backup art by Emma Vieceli and Daniel Heard
Music is Magic, you already knew that, yeah? In Phonogram, Kieron Gillen and Jamie McKelvie take the metaphor and make it real. Theirs is a world where ‘magicians’ called Phonomancers understand the magic of music and can use it to their own ends. In the first volume of Phonogram (Rue Brittania, in shops now), we saw a jaded Britpop fan quest to save what he believes in, only to find he believes in nothing but it doesn’t matter, because it’s his nothing. Volume Two is a different beast altogether. Set in a single night in 2006, in a club in Bristol dedicated to playing only female singers, we see events take place from different protagonist’s eyes each issue, with each instalment being wrapped around a different ‘indie’ song.
#2, based around ‘Let’s Make Love and Listen to Death From Above’ by Cansei de Ser Sexy stars Marc, the object of affection from #1, as he is forced to relive a bittersweet night in the very same club during the very same song, where he met and fell in love with a girl he hasn’t seen since. Most reviews I’ve read talk about how The Girl isn’t named and that’s important because she could be any girl. I disagree, The Girl couldn’t be any girl, she is The Girl, Marc’s girl and Gillen infuses her with so much personality, we can relate to it because if you’ve ever had your own Girl, you know very well that there’s no other girl like her in the world
Gillen’s use of flashbacks is really well done, I’m really enjoying watching his progress as a storyteller, at certain points we watch the same two characters interact at different points in time in the same panel and it’s never confusing. It’s really interesting in a larger picture sense as well, when you read #1, Marc just comes off as a dick towards Penny, but after this, you feel sorry for him (I actually had an ‘I want to dance. Just not with you’ moment recently, it went pretty much the same way.) In #1, you kinda like Laura but after she tries it on with the guy she knows her best friend likes, she comes off as a bit of an insecure bitch (and I’m sure opinion will change when I read her issue, she can’t be all that bad, she loves The Long Blondes). Gillen plays will multiple timelines and multiple angles of the same story like someone who’s been doing it for twenty years and you can tell he knows his way around a comic book and what makes comics a unique and special storytelling form.
What can I say about Jamie McKelvie’s art? Hell, what can’t I say, the guy gets better every time his pencil hits the page. I can’t imagine how good his art’s going to be by Phonogram V3. He draws real people incredibly well, I love looking at the faces in McKelvie crowd scenes and study the expressions, the reactions. He has an attention to detail that just astounds me and ever since he started working with Matthew Wilson colouring him, his art is damn near the best on the shelves.
The whole extra content is worth $3.50 on it's own. The two back-ups are beautiful and excellent insights into the deeper world of Phongram with beautiful and excellent art by Vieceli and Heard, the glossary is a must for anyone that might feel lost, and I appreciate that the time is taken to include it. Not only do we get that, but we get an essay by Gillen on the subject of music and memory, and a short interview with a member of CSS. Talk about bang for buck.
As a whole, it’s far more inclusive than its predecessor, very few people know of Kenickie and how much they mean to certain people, but everyone knows what it’s like to hear that one song that tears your heart open with memories of a past love. Phonogram: The Singles Club is a rare thing in my eyes, a comic that speaks to everyone, a universal comic, and the score may seem high but damned if it wasn’t one of the best comics I’ve read this year.
Story – 10
Art – 10
Overall - 10