SPACE BABE 113 episode one: Briefs, reviewed by Win
I have to declare an interest before I review these comics.
John Maybury, as well as a fellow CCG member, and my editor on the Guildís Annual,
is one of many people I have taught in more than twenty-five years as a tutor of
comic skills at various organisations ranging from the London College of Printing,
through the London Cartoon Centre to the Cartoon Art Trust. I think itís only fair
to state, however, looking at how few of those hundreds, if not thousands,
of students have gone on to produce outstanding comic work,
that weíd be deluding ourselves by assuming I had any effect whatsoever!
Confession over, and so to work.
Space Babe 113 is a remarkable and highly addictive piece of comedy science fiction
from a creator not content to simply relate tales, but to constantly challenge
himself in the process. With overtones of Barbarella (Jean Claude Forestís comic
more than the Jane Fonda movie version), the Ballad of Halo Jones, Little Annie Fanny
and a dozen other things I could cite to show off, this is the tale of a sexy ingénue
on a commercial mission to the stars with a disparate crew of misfits on the
claustrophobic and muddled trading ship 'Marco Polo'.
Although nominally the shipís Catering Officer, she always seems to be getting the wackiest jobs
- such as testing the fetishistic 'Off World Battle Garb' - on the long voyage to their rendezvous
with potential trading partners the Lirka. Not long into their five year mission a crisis occurs
when cosmic rays mutate the female crew-members knickers and only the greatest efforts of
human ingenuity can save the day.
There is a long tradition of sexy space women in comics, films, TV and even novels
- although the last does demand the exercise of some imagination
- and this gently saucy, racy tale ranks among the highest in that arena.
The humour is both broad and gentle, with more of the
'Carry On' rather than
'Emmanuelle' about it,
although the occasional subversive side-splitter sneaks in,
and there are oodles of SF, comic book and computer in-jokes for those in the know.
Remember I said he liked to challenge himself? Although able to draw well in a variety of
representational styles, John has 'sweetened the pot' by setting himself a daunting task.
Space Babe 113 is a glamour book that has moved away from pseudo- or pneumatic realism in
search of a reductionist abstraction that has echoes of
Alex Nino and even graffiti street art.
It is to his credit that his diligence has largely succeeded.
She may just be large blobs of thick black and white, but she is certainly a tasty little minx.
Regrettably, however, in a few places in the first issue the printing lets down the show,
but generally the effect is marvellous, and if thereís a collected edition those slips can be rectified.
(NB: Win reviewed the first edition, I hope the second looks better... - JM)
Hip, sexy, surreal and engaging, Space Babe 113 is a real treat that deserves great success and broad acclaim.