Friday, 5 January 2018

ReadItDaddy's Graphic Novel of the Week - Week Ending 5th January 2018 - "Tamsin and the Dark" by Neill Cameron and Kate Brown (David Fickling Books)

Oh dear - so much for that New Year's Resolution about not sticking comics into our Book of the Week slot quite as much.

Once again we're held in thrall by the amazingly talented bunch associated with The Phoenix Comic, and another stunning collection nails our first Book of the Week slot of 2018.

We're talking about the second sequence for Neill Cameron and Kate Brown's fantastic "Tamsin" series, with "Tamsin and the Dark" expanding on Tamsin Thomas' tenure as The Last Pellar.

The last whatnow? Why, the staunch defender of humanity from the nefarious machinations of the magical realm, that's what.

Once again Neill and Kate expertly delve into ancient British folklore, mining a rich seam of characters and story ideas that I've loved since I was a kid, and that C is beginning to appreciate now she's old enough to get behind more mature comics such as this.

In this second collected outing, Tamsin is beginning to explore her powers, once again under the tuition of King Arthur, who just happens to have taken the form of a rather curmudgeonly (and hilarious) crow.

Tamsin's troubles aren't just confined to magical realms though. There's plenty of annoyance going on in the real world. Her brother Morgan is a typical big brother, annoying and always out to prove how cool he is to his dullard mates (who also get drawn into this particular adventure).

Yup, same Tamsin. Same. 

Something is stirring deep underground. A dark maniacal menace that was long buried and sealed by magic is beginning to draw acolytes to do its bidding. Tamsin may be the key required to unlock the charms and spells keeping the dark creature at bay. But she's not about to roll over and play dead for some ancient evil just yet...

We love these stories. For me, they take me way back to reading stuff by John Gordon - who always seemed to have a knack for turning crusty old legends of Ancient Britain, Gogmagog and chalk figures into a new mythos meshing with contemporary kid-life. In the same way Neill and Kate successfully achieve the same beautifully magical mix here with strong storytelling, a good molasses-dark plot and exquisite artwork.

I love Tamsin's Mum. Even if she's from Oldham. She has a heck of a lot of Joyce Byers (Stranger Things) about her in this adventure. 

Once again we still can't help cackling at the approach to dealing with swearing in this story too (don't worry, wibbly parents, nothing to corrupt your tinies' little minds!)

We've just seen more exquisite stuff in the Phoenix Comic from Tamsin's story arc in "Tamsin and the Days" so we look forward to seeing a collected version of that at some point in the future too. Meanwhile this is once again fantastic stuff though, from two sublime talents who are - quite rightly - equally proud of their own and each other's work on this blisteringly brilliant slice of storytelling. .

C's best bit: Tamsin's various exchanges with King Arthur (who is about as helpful as Clippy, the horrid Microsoft virtual helper that thankfully her generation were entirely spared from).

Daddy's favourite bit: I have a lot of respect for folk who do their homework, and take a subject like ancient Anglo-Saxon / Ancient British mythology and give it a tweak of their own to produce stories that are just as thrilling, dark and magical as the original stories must have been to our ancestors. Damned good stuff.

"Tamsin and the Dark" by Neill Cameron and Kate Brown is out now, published by David Fickling Books (kindly supplied for review).