Comic strips are one of the most effective mediums for conveying personal experiences. This is because in addition to allowing the writer to explore his character’s inner monologue, you can also literally show the reader the way things are from the character’s perspective. Laptop Guy is a comedy take on one man’s journey created by Ashes to Ashes and Skins scriptwriter Jack Lothian and renowned illustrator Sha Nazir. The result is something brilliantly surreal and splendidly vitriolic.
The main character is a chap called Sha (who looks a lot like the co-creator of the book) and the tale opens with him daydreaming whilst working a soul-crushing job in a fast food restaurant. Sha is woken from reverie by the daily grind, and we are introduced to his Sha’s co-workers; each one a person who has tried to pursue a life in the arts only to fall short in some way. Sha draws comics but desperately needs an idea for a character. After a fateful chat with one of his fellow wage slaves (a gent who wishes to write the great Russian novel, despite not being Russian), Sha hits upon the idea of Laptop Guy; a man with a laptop for a head.
This results in a comedic spiral of events which get progressively funnier and darker as the book continues. If you’ve ever tried to write a novel, create a comic book, become an actor or do anything else creative, you’ll recognise quite a few of the scenes here. In fact, you’ll find yourself laughing quite a lot. The petty frustrations of getting on with an artistic life are examined and prodded as the supporting cast utterly fail to understand what Sha is going through.
Things come to a head when the main character realises he can’t stop thinking about Laptop Guy; this character begins to not only haunt his dreams but his waking life too. Laptop Guy becomes not only a comic foil, but a clever metaphor for the creative urge.
Lothian’s dialogue is sharp and well observed, through some of the characters are a little over the top. Nazir’s art suits this sort of parody perfectly, being both friendly, cartoon-like and yet somehow dark at the same time. If you’re into comics (and the people who make them) then you will want to read Laptop Guy.
LAPTOP GUY / WRITER: JACK LOTHIAN / ARTIST: SHA NAZIR / PUBLISHER: BLACK HEARTED PRESS / RELEASE DATE: OUT NOW