Sunday, 2 May 2010

The Sound Of Magic
The Music Of Phonogram
Okay right this is an odd one. I have to try write about something that I picked up randomly on the spur of the moment because I read the first (or so
I thought) of the set online. I'm going to try write whatever comes to mind and then edit the bits I like into something resembling a review for the
Comic Book / drawn musical that is Phonogram: The Singles Club.

I suppose we should start with the author and artist really. The Author is one Kieron Gillen who's name it turns out is harder to spell than first
thought. One of the founding members of and original PC Gamer writer has a firm foundation in most computer game geek hearts. He
is currently still writing for RockPaperShotgun and moonlighting (or should that be daylighting as it seems to be his main focus now?) as writer for
Comic books such as Thor and S.W.O.R.D according to Wikipedia.

Firstly I only know of Kieron because I used to read PC Gamer back in the olden days and he wrote the review for the first game I ever loved (*sniff*
Love you Uplink *sniff*) . Also it turns out he's actually rather a nice bloke according to my girlfriend who met him yesterday at Free Comic Book Day
at London's Orbital Comics (Shameless plug for place I've never been). It seems she chatted to him about random things such as Viking longboat
formations. Yeah exactly. I also met him personally (however briefly) at an event held by the Introversion guys up at the Baftas in London at which he
was rather good.

Right that's enough of Kieron as awesome as he is. On to the artist who in this case is Jamie McKelvie and according to an old friend (Wikipedia in
this case) has worked on such greats as Suburban Glamour, Siege: Loki and of course Phonogram. From what I can tell as a non-artist he's a great artist
with particular flair and conveying the mood of a situation through the facial expressions of the characters he's drawing. I'll get more on to this
with specifics regarding Phonogram later.

Right now to the main event ladies and gentlepeople. Phonogram: The Singles Club we should probably start of saying is fantastic. I don't expect any of
you to take my opinion of this as I'm going to tell you and hopefully convince you to at least check out the free first part online of this interesting
concept. Quick note if I do convince you do not rush out as I did and hold up your local comic book shop demanding banana's, Captain America's shield
and Phonogram on a velvet pillow. It doesn't work as they'll ask you if you want the first Phonogram Novel or the Second.

If you've read this far you're either thinking why is this man insane, does he live near me and are my doors locked? Or you could be curious as to what
Phonogram actually is. Firstly The Singles Club is the second of the Phonogram graphic novels. I personally didn't realise this and in my rush only
brought The Singles Club. However these can be taken as stand-alone stories and are perfectly composed and tied into a comprehensive whole.

Everyone has had a song that they've related to or have summed up exactly what they were feeling at that moment. Everyone has felt that tug from their
chest and the sudden belief that a song could sum them up so well at that moment. That's what Phonogram tells us all. Music is magic and if you know
how to use it then you can direct this power. The people who can use music in this way are Phonomancers.

The power of music is not for everyone. You have to want to believe and you have to try. This is a written extract from the section called Wolf Like Me.

"Choose a Track. Doesn't matter what is - just that it matters to you. Stick it on and turn it up. Close your eyes and listen hard. Focus.
Just feel the song. let it sweep over you breathe it in. let it possess you. and when you can feel it filling every single cell in your body...Just
ride it as long as you can".

I don't know about you but this has a certain tone to me. Slightly prophetic and mystic that brings me to mind of pagan magic (stand on a chilly night
in Yorkshire with a dog bone on your head for a huge wang by morning). Everyone has had this feeling of music washing over them and instilling them
with the same sense of being that the artist felt writing it. It could be empowering, it could be relaxing or it could be depressing. Regardless of
what the feeling is it's the act of feeling that makes it special. It could be Blondie, Sabbath, Maiden, Pink, Arctic Monkeys or even McFly. Whatever
your poison is people link emotions to songs so why can't we link songs to pictures? This is what Phonogram sets out to accomplish.

Something that interests me most is the idea of this musical magic. It's not just the feeling it creates it's the acts that it inspires. For some it
could be writing, for others self-loathing or even dancing with joy. With the thoughts of dancing we move to the centre piece of our musical chess game
strung by DJ Seth Bingo and the Silent Girl.

The story begins with a girl, like most do. She's pretty, smiley and most of all confident. She flicks us a smile and talks to you. Not the person
reading over your shoulder, you and only you. She gets ready by cranking up a song, does a quick dance with stars in her eyes and prepares for an
evening that's going to be "Epic covered in Sparklers and Win Flakes". Phonogram has a sense of slang that I've only felt in stories by William
Gibson who created words we now take for granted such as Cyberspace. It uses modern terms so easily as people do. This phrase isn't out of context or
out of place and no your mum certainly wouldn't get it but maybe your cool uncle would.

I know this probably hasn't convinced you to read any of this and that's because I'm not such a good writer. All I can suggest is you check out the
first issue Pull Shapes on It's beautiful, ambitious and maybe everyone of us will have a night where
the moves we make and the ties we create can be strung together by a DJ pulling our strings like Seth Bingo and Silent Girl. I'll leave you with a
promo-piece for Phonogram the Singles Club and maybe you'll feel like I do.