Some declaring of interests wouldn’t go amiss: Rob Davis – who came up with this project, and co-edited it with Woodrow Phoenix – is an old, old friend. As is Sean Longcroft, one of the contributors. A couple of the other artists are Twitter mates, too. But anyway, sod that – this is wonderful.
It uses (roughly) a ‘one day a year in the life’ structure to tell the story of Nelson Baker across 43 years (1968 to now) which isn’t a new concept. But the approach absolutely is – 54 comic artists and writers taking a day each and, while still serving the overall narrative arc, bringing their own styles and preoccupations and memories to bear on Nel’s life. It’s not all t0 my taste – how could it be, with so many people involved – but most of it is just brilliant. Apart from the aforementioned mates (whose sections are great anyway), special mention to Alice Duke, Harvey James, Philip Bond, Paul Peart-Smith and Luke Pearson.
Nelson manages to totally evoke different eras whilst avoiding the usual cliches the likes of Peter Kay fall back on (“Vimto and Spangles were always crap, regardless of the look back bores”) and pulls in race, sex, politics, rave, art and comics without it ever feeling forced. I laughed a lot and I must confess a small tear was shed and I really didn’t want it to end.
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