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Slow News Day

OK, I’ll admit that I am a mark for those comics that ignore the fact that the comic industry was built on the backs of super-powered heroes flying through the world. Ever since I picked up early issues of Eightball and Love & Rockets, I’ve been reading whatever small press comics I can get a hold of. So, when I discovered the work of Andi Watson, I quickly renamed him my favorite writer/artist. Responsible for such amazing work as Skeleton Key, Geisha, and Breakfast After Noon, Watson makes wonderfully personal, sometimes hilarious, and always quirky comics. Slow News Day, from Oni Press, collects the six issues of the mini-series and became my favorite trade paperback.

The story is interesting enough: Katherine, a young journalism graduate (who’s representing NorCal in a big way) comes to England to work for the Wheatstone Mercury, a paper that her mother had worked for back in the day. She arrives to find that the paper is just a nickel and dime weekly with no foreign correspondent, no fashion reporter, and in fact, only one reporter, the brutally English Owen. The two have the natural culture clash, but there is an obvious friendship beneath the annoyed looks. The two go through town looking for stories, only to have the absolute fluff pushed to the front page by marketing folks trying to boost sales. Katherine is also writing a television series and dealing with a boyfriend back home who is working on selling it. This little sidenote makes the whole thing more believable, adding the sense that Katherine really is that girl who just got out of school and is looking for what to do next.

What sells this story to me isn’t just the fact that it sounds like a tale told by one of my fellow Emerson graduate’s year after school, but that the art flows through the entire thing. The art is minimalist, at times nearly expressionist in delivery. The slightly unclean techniques Watson uses add to the tale by increasing the sense of intimacy when it needs to be increased and by adding confusion and frustration when the tone needs additional setting. When I first came across Watson’s work, I was blown away by just how much a few subtle shifts in a series of frames can change the entire mood of the following pages.

Oni has done a magnificent job with this project, as they have with almost all their trades. The work of Andi Watson is ideal for the TPB world, but could have easily been undone by too much adherence to the individual issues. While that’s a mistake that most companies have managed to avoid in the twenty or so years since trades became the standard way of reprinting minis, it still pops up. Here, Slow News Day is allowed to traipse through the full book as one story.

So, pick this bastard up! It’s great work that deserves your full attention.

Slow News Day

Chris Garcia

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