Review – Pencil Head #1 (of 5) (Image Comics)

Click to enlarge.

Click to enlarge.

Publisher: Image Comics
Story & Art: Ted McKeever
Release Date: 20th January, 2015

Ever get the feeling that you’ve just witnessed something special, but you don’t know how or why? That is kind of the feeling I had after finishing this first issue. It’s not that I didn’t enjoy it, on some levels I very much did. It’s more that I felt I was missing too much of the story through ignorance of the medium or industry.

Billed as Ted McKeever’s love letter to the comic book industry, Pencil Head follows the life of Poodwaddle as he struggles to live and work within the world of comics. It’s a bizarre story. More so because you know that it’s based in truth with – I suspect – at least one clear reference to his work on the Metropol series. The writing seems more classy and less pop culture in Pencil Head, probably because it’s so grounded in reality.

Interspersed with this are some of the more wacky elements of the story. The scene in the strip club looks to be central to the plot of the story, but is a comical representation of itself. The clearly allegorical Critter-like creature that is stalking Poodwaddle is another important element. It’s obvious that it means something in the context of the story, but by the end of the issue it’s not evident on what it represents. I think I’ve an idea what it is, but I’m not confident enough to commit that to writing. It’s a little frustrating, but not a deal breaker. In some manner, it’s a little intriguing.

Ted McKeever’s art in Pencil Head is incredible. Truely. It’s ink only, and there is a clear Gonzo influence to the art. While it’s a little more restrained than something from the mind of Ralph Steadman, I feel there are definite similarities, especially around the mouths (i.e teeth) of some of the characters. It’s quite brilliant in its execution and something to be savoured by the reader time and again.

I’m a bit conflicted over how to summarise Pencil Head. I’ll admit that on my first read-through I did not warm to the title at all, although the art I found impressive. Having to review it made me examine the issue again, and again, and with each new read I found myself liking the title a little bit more. I still feel that some of the meaning has flown over my head and would be more relevant to someone with first-hand experience in the industry. However, if you stick with the story I do think you’ll gain an appreciation for Pencil Head, especially after subsequent reads. I almost feel like there is the beginnings of something significant here, but it’s just out of my grasp.

Rating: 3/5.

The writer of this piece was: Andrew McGlinn
Andrew Tweets from @Jockdoom.

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