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Saturday 16th
posted by Morning Star in Arts

MICHAL BONCZA enjoys an anthology of subversive cartooning

Dirty Rotten Comics
Edited by Kirk Campbell
(Dirty Rotten Comics, £4)

LEGEND has it that when Henry VIII was at stool in Hampton Court palace he spotted a graffiti of Anne Boleyn, legs akimbo, on the toilet door.

Recognising it to be an accurate anatomical representation from someone obviously in the know, he immediately fell out of love and sought revenge.

The rest, as they say, is history and Dirty Rotten Comics editor Kirk Campbell suggests in his introduction to this sixth edition that it’s an example of art changing the course of events and that in “this very anthology, the seeds of a revolution could be blossoming.”

That’s for you to decide but the work of the 30 artists packed into this slim but absorbing anthology certainly caters for most tastes — however warped — and nearly all known senses of humour.

In Welcome to Britain, Matthew Broadhurst sets the tone by pointing an accusing finger at the Little-Englander xenophobia so beloved of the Ukipista lurking in too many an ultra-nationalist heart these troubled days as “hordes of Syrians” stand at the gates.

Jey Levang nearly rips the paper to bits with her swashbuckling pen and violent brush action in The Rebels, the gentlest of anecdotes with a delicious sting in the tail.

Anna Dowsland’s Dark Skies — reminiscent of Frans Masereel lino-cuts in execution — and Julian Hanshaw in Shit List engagingly explore nocturnal loneliness and odd encounters among shadows and murky streetlights, accompanied by appropriately creepy texts.

Absurdistan is revisited intriguingly in Josh Hicks’s Wake Up, while Kevin Loftus’s Unusual and Peter Hall’s The Alley are assured in their unique drawing styles. They invite us to the cliff top of plausibility only to then push us over the edge. Great fun.

The British propensity for anthropomorphising cats gets the once-over in Alice Campbell’s Dolly Comix, Joseph Jores’s Check Meowt, Royston Robertson’s Hourly Comics Day and Kim Clements’s My Uncle. In all of them, human logic is improbably applied to the feline existential state with predictably dire consequences.

While this ambitious collection is unlikely to have the historical impact of the legendary Boleyn graffiti, it might have an explosive impact on flatmates, family or assorted visitors should you leave it lying around in your domestic water closet.