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On The Banks Of The Mighty Croal
posted November 20, 2007


Creators: Rob Jackson
Publishing Information: Self-published, mini-comic, 32 pages, $4
Ordering Numbers: Rob Jackson, 41 Berkeley Rd, Bolton UK BL1 6PS

imageRob Jackson's newest mini-comic is a goof on walking tour guides where instead of exploring Paris or Rome the reader gets a series of drawings and text that takes them through Jackson's home town of Bolton. The comedy appears mostly in the text, through the way that Jackson presents quotidian elements as if they were grand history, and in a few, mild jabs at the presentational tics in such documents. It's hard not to smile at throwaway lines like "This enigmatic bridge is a culture icon, having recently starred in the BBC's Life on Mars."

What makes it worth noting as a comic, however, is that if you pay attention to the visuals and the map in the back and peek past the acerbic tone, I suspect that On the Banks may work like an actual walking tour. In that way, it may remind some folks of Jeff Zenick's travelogues (that was Jeff Zenick, right?), only without Zenick's inquisitive voice and I think a greater element of the artist looking for consistency in the art, especially with the human figure. The look of the town as realized by Jackson proves more appealing than not; it has that quiet, dignified bearing that most towns manage to cobble together when viewed on foot from a variety of standpoints rather than the broad assumptions that arise out of looking at them from a car on the main thoroughfares. I wish every cartoonist would do something local like this. There's something powerful about comics that use the depiction of something right there in front of the artist as the visual component for a work, something arresting just for itself. Barring a rush to the drawing table by a hundred local reporters, I hope Jackson might consider another go-around himself.