Phonogram: The Singles Club #2(of 7) - 'Wine and Bed and More and Again' - Gillen, McKelvie and Wilson
Story - I'm having a bit of trouble formulating this review, because after 3 reads of this book I'm still not really sure what I think of it. Basically, I like it, but I also don't, it often makes me angry at how fucking hard it's trying, it's good, but it's not as good as it thinks it is, and that makes it less good... if you know what I mean. Yeah, I don't either.
The basic premise of Phonogram is that 'music is magic', it's a kind of nebulous term that I don't think has been fully explored or explained by Gillen, why is it? How is it? What can these Phonomancers do? Mainly they seem to drop references and quote lyrics. what amazing magic. But I do think this issue is the clearest expression of how one aspect of the music as magic thing works, as it takes something from real life (songs reminding us of stuff from our pasts) and making it a tangible thing, as the character Marc is cursed to a flashback of some Manic Pixie Dream Girl with oh so funny foreign speech patterns. It's a good idea, and it's clearer than whatever David Kohl's powers were in Volume 1 and what Penny did in the first issue, but that female character was a fucking cliche and a half, she's so free-spirited and fun! 'Dancingman' Ugh and indeed Blerg. It was just the kind of self-involved stuff Gillen does so often. I did like how the flashbacks were structured though, with them happening concurrently to Marc and the annoying european commenting on it.
Perhaps the best thing about this issue is how it links in with and expands on #1. Gillen is going for something like that movie 'Go', you know, the one with Katie Holmes, and all the different issues of the story take place in the same club night and mix together, so we saw Marc and Lloyd (Sorry, Mr Logos) in #1, and Penny from #1 is in here, and Emily Aster from #3 is seen in both issues. This is a fun idea, but it does end up making each issue feel incomplete, so it's hard to judge it all until it's finished, but Gillen structures it well, like, if you'd only read last issue, you'd think that Marc was a total fucking dick, but this issue, well, it doesn't show that he's not a dick, just that maybe he's slightly less of a one, and more goes into his decision not to dance with Penny than meanness, he's cursed or whatever, still, he's so self-involved! Get over yourself!
So this is kind of a ramble isn't it? Sorry, but since the book veers from good to bad, so shall this review. What else was good? Hmm... I did like Lloyd, he was a dick, but unlike most of the characters, it's probably intentional. Other stuff... the references to music, I didn't have that much of a problem with it as I got pretty much all of them, but I do think he goes overboard, like the character of Laura Heaven, who speaks almost entirely in quotes from the Long Blondes' first album, I like that band, love that album, but it's actually annoying, and a bit too arch and knowing, I think Gillen needs to focus on telling a story and stop trying to show how much he knows about music, too often his job as a Music journalist (for pretentious magazine Plan B, which my brother has a subscription, oy) seeps into this comic.
Overall then, how is Phonogram #2? It's decent, I probably would recommend it, but if you're not as into music as Gillen is (I certainly aren't anymore) and are willing to put up with indie moaning and poorly explained magic, it's an enjoyable, if not as good as it thinks it is experience.
Art - Now this was the best thing about the book, McKelvie is amazing, and he's gotten even better since he's made the jump to colour, his work here and on his own book Suburban Glamour (take the best things Phonogram says about youth, take away the pretension and add monsters) is amazing, distinctive and just plain ace. Matthew Wilson's colours also deserve a nod, they fit with McKelvie's art, and while a lot of the backgrounds are blank, he puts some interesting stuff there. He also uses more muted colours to differentiate between the present and the flashbacks, the art in the back up stories by Emma Vieceli and Daniel Heard was excellent too. I didn't mention them in the story section, because... well they didn't have a story.
Best Line - 'Why does no-one understand my genius?' Sometimes it seems to me the whole book is Gillen shouting that at us.
Last edited by Punchy
on Mon May 04, 2009 6:36 pm, edited 1 time in total.