Review- The Exchange #1 (Madius Comics)

Publisher: Madius Comics
Writer(s): Mike Sambrook, Rob Jones
Artwork: Liam Hill
Lettering: Rob Jones
Release Date: 9th November 2019 (Thought Bubble – Ask For Mercy Hall 201-202)

Clive hates his job, hates the fact that he has no social life, and hates the fact that at age 34 he still lives with his mother (even though he tells himself it’s to help her since his dad died). Clive needs a change; so when he finds an advert for a teacher exchange program, one so suspiciously tailored specifically to him that it actually has his name on it (but let’s not dwell), and talks about his mother (nothing to see here), promising trips to exotic locations (warning bells duly ignored), he jumps at the chance for a change of scenery. And even when a mysterious and decidedly out-of-the-ordinary horse drawn carriage arrives, he manages to pass it off as “normal”… Maybe he should have paid more attention to the warning signs.

I’ve been itching to get my hands on a preview of this book since I saw some snippets of the preliminary artwork, and I’m so pleased to have been given an opportunity to talk about it ahead of its official launch at Thought Bubble this year.

Straight away you know you’re reading something from the MADIUS stable. There’s a dark quirky humour that I’ve come to look forward to in Sambrook and Jones’ writing, and The Exchange has it in spades. Don’t get me wrong, MADIUS have produced some properly scary titles, and I’m dying to see the resurrection of Tragic Tales of Horrere, but this darkly comedic style is one they’ve really sunk their teeth into and it works!

I’ve used the word “charm” often when talking about the recent stories coming out of MADIUS, and once again, this is a book that has a real (if admittedly somewhat creepy) charm to it, from the delivery of Clive’s somewhat naïve foray into the exotic and unknown, to the depiction of the citizens of Old Queensdock, whose motto “Nothing Weird To See Here” belies their less than conventional appearance and habits.

I’m desperately trying to avoid spoilers, but think along the lines of Adventure Time meets The Shadow over Innsmouth and you’ll not be far wrong. What’s also great about this series is that it’s most definitely an all-ages comic. I sat this evening and read it with my seven year old, he got most of the humour (which is slightly worrying), he spent ages looking for all the differences in the characters, and he was really disappointed there wasn’t more to read… yet.

With apologies to Liam Hill, this is my first introduction to his artwork, but I can honestly say that I really liked it. The simplistic, cartoony style is perfect for the story that’s being told, it provides a lot of leeway in terms of the world that’s being created. I also love all the little details you find if you look hard enough, and could certainly see this being easily translated into an animated series. The character design is fabulous and, hand on heart, I’d really like to try and make some of Old Queensdock’s characters into Halloween masks for this year. I want to see T-Shirts, collectible enamel pins, hell, I want to see figurines of some of these guys! They’re awesome!

If you’re at Thought Bubble, grab a copy of this, check out Madius’ other titles and remember – MASKS ON AND DON’T ACT WEIRD!

Rating: 4/5.

The writer of this piece was: Mark Scott
Mark Tweets from @macoy_comicgeek ‏

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