Dundee has a long and illustrious association with comics. From the halcyon days of the Beano and Dandy¸ right up to the annual comics day held at the University of Dundee, the city is closely associated with creativity and design. One of the newest arrivals on the scene is Treehouse comic, a regular anthology by the Dundee based comic collective known as Treehouse.
I have a somewhat uneasy relationship with anthologies, but I was intrigued by the fact that the members of Treehouse had envisioned their comic as being a celebration of creativity rather than a mixture of stories tied into a similar concept. Space isolation, mediations on belief, post-apocalyptic fantasy, tales from the Royal Mail frontline, surreal Detective adventures, time travel shenanigans and even a touching tale of animal friendship are all featured within. While this approach does give the comic a slightly schizophrenic feel it works brilliantly in highlighting the level of frenzied creativity among the contributors, with the mix of styles and concepts ensuring that there will be stories and concepts to suit most tastes.
Work from seven members of the collective appears in this issue: Andy Herd, David Peter Kerr, Norrie Millar, David Robertson, Neil Scott, Avril Smart and Jules Valera. Being not overly familiar with the Dundee comics scene, I was only familiar with previous work from a couple of the contributors. However the passion and creativity of the creators shone through in their work. While every reader will have their own favourite strips, there were three in particular that really stood out for me.
Andy Herd’s contribution features Detective Skip Tobey in ‘The shadow of the Cryptogods’ and is a delight. I mean it as a compliment when I say that the strip reminded me of the early days of Viz comic, and the tone struck by many of its strips in meshing together everyday events with a particular brand of surrealism. Filled with nice touches (Skip’s Police badge being a particular favourite of mine), snappy dialogue and an instantly distinctive art style, I’d love to read more of Detective Tobey’s adventures.
David Robertson contributes ‘Room tour’, featuring a central protagonist who video blogs about coffee makers. From this deceptively normal starting point the strip veers off into time-travel shenanigans, marrying the everyday and the fantastic in the way that Robertson does so well. Another contributor whose work is so recognisable, this issue marks Robertson’s first published work as a member of the Treehouse team.
Closing the issue is Neil Scott’s ‘The journey’, the touching tale of the friendship between a pigeon and a crocodile, if you thought that War Horse or Homeward Bound were the high water mark for animal friendship inspired tear jerkers, think again. One of the shortest strips in the issue at only one page, it makes expert use of its limited space to effectively convey this strange relationship and the milestones both participants face along the way.
While these three strips were my personal favourites, in truth, each strip here is well worthy of your time and attention. The Dundee comics scene isn’t just alive and well, it’s vibrant, and bursting with innovation and creativity from some very talented individuals. Don’t just take my word for it, check out more of the team’s work at www.facebook.com/TreehouseComic