COMIC BOOK REVIEW: VERITY FAIR – CUSTARD CREAMS AND PINK ELEPHANTS / WRITER: TERRY WILEY / ARTIST: TERRY WILEY / PUBLISHER: BORDERLINE PRESS / RELEASE DATE: OUT NOW
Terry Wiley is one of the secret weapons of the indie comics scene. His unique blend of everyday biography and utterly British weirdness is truly remarkable, and it’s an enormous shame that Wiley’s work seems to be a secret shared between fans of small-press comic books and no one else. His latest trade paperback, Verity Fair – Custard Creams and Pink Elephants, is both a startlingly fresh and original work, yet also the culmination of the plot lines from his previous works, both a monument to his work so far and yet a brilliant introduction to the whole thing.
Verity Fair – Custard Creams and Pink Elephants is the story of Verity Bournville; a jobbing actress who is no longer as young as she might like, who has had a thoroughly weird life so far, and fate doesn’t seem interested in stopping. In addition to the usual trials and tribulations that an actor has to cope with to get through the day, there’s an unpleasant mystery to be solved, one that has shaped Verity’s life so far. This is a tale set mostly in the mundane, with some epic strangeness nipping constantly at the character’s heels. It’s a credit to both Wiley’s art and writing that the narrative stays both everyday and yet profoundly odd throughout. If you ever wondered what an episode of early Doctor Who would look like had it been helmed by gritty British director Mike Leigh, Verity Fair is perhaps your answer.Long-time fans of Wiley’s work will be delighted to see that storylines from Sleaze Castle, More Tales from Sleaze Castle and Surreal School Stories are examined and resolved, though the themes of curiosity and enlightenment from those works are thoroughly maintained and expanded on. Adrian Kermode’s Petra Etc also gets referenced in the narrative in an extremely sweet and telling way. To the uninitiated masses, of course, these scenes simply add to the various levels of drama and mystery, creating a sense of a much larger world which is both sweet and bizarre, much like the real world.
If you are a comic book fan who has ever tried to claim indie credentials, but haven’t experienced the anarchic and innovative humour of Wiley’s work, then you owe it to yourself to get Verity Fair – Custard Creams and Pink Elephants.
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