Publisher: Image Comics
Writer: Kieron Gillen
Art: Jamie McKelvie, Matt Wilson
Release Date: 20th January, 2016
Ok, confession time. Phonogram is a series that I allowed to slip right under my radar. I really wasn’t sure that it would be my ‘thing’, having no great affinity with the genre or artists Gillen and McKelvie pay homage to throughout. However, I did grow up in the era when music television was born, and can certainly understand and appreciate the impact it’s arrival undoubtedly had.
Now I’d be lying if I said I’d understood every music reference contained in these pages, but that fact that I recognised more than a few, perhaps even the majority, says a lot for the ubiquitous and ‘magical power’ of music which forms the central metaphor of this series. In our formative years, it shapes and colours our worldview, and I’m sure we can all readily identify Emily’s desire to be just like her idols. Given the opportunity, most of us would gladly have sacrificed some part of ourselves to exist in the timeless surrealism of the music video at some point in our lives.
In this final issue of the current volume, the King Behind the Screen is finally revealed, and his identity will I’m sure come as no surprise to genre aficionados. Emily comes to the realisation that the part of her she traded in her pursuit of cool, is a necessary part of her psyche if she is to survive in the real world. With the perspective of time, she finally understands that some things are better resigned to the past, a turning point that emphasises the theme of ageing so prevalent in the story thus far.
The series has been of an incredibly high standard throughout in terms of both writing and art. Gillen’s challenging story and rapier-like dialogue have been a joy to experience, and the book is packed with metaphor and symbolism. The moment where Emily confronts ‘The King’ exemplifies Jamie McKelvie’s gift for visual storytelling, creating simple but deeply meaningful images by balancing the recognisable with the surreal. Matthew Wilson’s lush retro palette provides polish and mood, and helps accentuate the ‘pop’ aesthetic.
If I had a hat, I’d probably be eating it around now. Issue six closes this wonderfully crafted love letter to the halcyon days of music video in fine fashion, and sets the seal on a series that will resonate with lovers of music, and good comics.
The Writer of this piece was: Martin Doyle
You can follow Martin on Twitter