Creators: MJ Wallace, Jo Whitby, Ren Wednesday, Penny Sharp, Gill Hatcher, Elina Bry, Shona Heaney, Clare Forrest, Eilidh Nicolson, Schnumn, Ida Henrich, Eileen Laurie, Maki Yamazaki, Faye Stacey, Jef Sinclair, Jenny Soep
Release Date: 28th June 2017
Fresh from a successfully funded Kickstarter campaign, That Girl Comic is the latest offering from Scottish female comic collective Team Girl Comic. Or rather, from the now infinitely more grown-up sounding TCG Collective. And actually, “grown up” is a fairly apt description for this latest anthology as a whole, which uses growing up as its primary theme.
Yes, this release is about transitioning from a child to an adult, and all that involves. Anxieties and insecurities, hopes and dreams, lost innocence, nostalgia – everything’s fair game here as the collective provide a typically diverse and intriguing take on their chosen theme.
As always, it’s fantastic to see all the different interpretations of the same broad concept, from frivolous fun to thought provoking introspection. The array of talent on display is also rather impressive, with a myriad of diverse artistic styles ranging from intricately detailed to stripped-down simplicity.
It’s also worth mentioning that there are no less than twenty-two(!) separate contributions featured in this latest anthology, and while it’s probably not practical to look at every one individually, I’m going to cherry-pick five of my personal favourites for a closer look.
Time Travel Advice by MJ Wallace – The first strip of the book, and a wonderfully upbeat opening which sees a younger MJ being visited by her older, time-travelling self who comes to provide some pearls of grown-up wisdom. A quirky take on the age-old “what advice would you give your younger self?” question, and a great tone-setter for the anthology as a whole.
Lux Permanet by Clare Forrest – A beautifully constructed one-page piece chronicling the birth, life and death of a race of unusual plant-like creatures. Packing thirty-five panels onto a single page could potentially lead to a cluttered, confusing situation, but Forrest’s knack for simplicity and expression results in an impressive meditation on the meaning of life which is bound to raise a smile.
Pupa by Eilidh Nicolson – Another autobiographical piece, with Eilidh touching on the way she uses different kinds of ‘puppets’ to deal with her social anxiety. Well structured, Nicolson manages to pack a huge amount of emotion and humour into just two pages, letting us know a little more about her as a person while comically still keeping the reader at arm’s length. Great stuff.
Shame by Gill Hatcher – I’m not sure whether this one is necessarily autobiographical or not, but it sees Hatcher providing a moving account of an enthusiastic young girl preparing a meal for herself only to be ‘food shamed’ into thinking that eating is bad. A poignant look at the way in which seemingly throwaway comments can cause untold damage to developing minds, all delivered in Hatcher’s trademark ‘cutesy’ artistic style.
Parallel Universe by Elina Bry – Before Elina was born, her parents picked both a boy and a girl’s name. This strip sees her imaging the life of the boy she never was, wondering how he’d end up, what decisions he’d make differently based on his gender, and feeling almost melancholy about the life she effectively took away from him by being born a girl. It’s a wonderful, thought-provoking concept that could definitely be explored in a lot more depth, and one which really showcases the strength of this anthology – and the TGC Collective as a whole – as a way to get those nagging thoughts in the back of your mind out into the ether.
These are my personal favourites, but it’s worth noting that the quality is so impressively high across the board that it’s more than likely that anyone who picks this one up will have their own equally worthy “top five”. Hell, I could have probably picked a completely different five or six myself without questioning my decision too much.
Ultimately then, this is another humorous, poignant and thought-provoking offering from the former Team Girl Comic, and given the variety of styles and tones on display, it’s pretty much guaranteed that whoever picks it up will find something here that speaks to them personally.
Uplifting without becoming saccharine and realistic without feeling overly cynical, That Girl Comic comes highly recommended.
You can (and should) find out more about the TGC Collective at tgccollective.com. You can also find them at Glasgow Comic Con this weekend (1st July 2017) at table C30 in the Clyde Foyer.