Sunday, 11 July 2010

Montague Terrace

                                    

A week ago I went and saw Brighton University’s MA Digital Media Arts Final Year Show, which just happened to feature two comic-related “mature students”: former independent publisher, Peter Pavement, who used to run Slab-o-Concrete Press, and comic artist par excellence, Warren Pleece.

Peter’s Slab-o-Concrete was one of the UK’s best independent publishers in the 1990s producing work by Woodrow Phoenix, Craig Conlan, Simon Gane, and Ed (Ilya) Hilyer – who was also visiting the show on Friday. Since abandoning the days of small press Peter has been getting heavily involved with all things internet and digital and his degree entry (www.snapshotbrighton.co.uk) was a very impressive “open submission, open judging photographic competition” where the inhabitants of Brighton can post their photographs, judge each other’s entries, and have them pinpointed on the map, building a visual tour of the city. The submissions are open until November 2010 and there are prizes apparently!
Above: Two Punks by Simon Gane. Gane is one of the greatest and most underrated artists in the world and
was regularly published by Slab-O-Concrete.

Warren Pleece’s showpiece was an interactive installation based around he and Gary—his writer brother—’s forthcoming project, Montague Terrace (inspired partly by the Scott Walker track of the same name). I’ve been a fan of Gary and Warren’s work ever since they first came in to sell their self-published comic Velocity, when I ran the small press section in Comic Showcase back around 1988. 

The installation consisted of a main entrance to a block of flats with four buzzers to push, each one revealing a short video animated by Warren. The videos peek into the lives of various inhabitants of Montague Terrace and—in classic Pleece brothers style—they are a melange of dysfunctional misanthropes and odd balls on the fringes of society. There’s “failed ex-pop crooners, Special Ops OAPs, nervous magicians and magical bunnies, and unsuccessful megalomaniacs...” Paul Ian Gregory, is a the former popstar, now embittered by his recent lack of success; Beatrice Green AKA “Babooshka” is the little old lady with a secret; and Martin the Magician and his talking rabbit Marvo. Talking rabbits seem to be de riguer as Garth Ennis’ Chronicles of Wormwood also features a talking rabbit. Not that I’m complaining. I have rabbits, they just don’t talk to me.
Montague Terrace is fabulous and should be coming out as a graphic novel from Jonathan Cape next year. In the meantime the installation will be appearing in London at the Hypercomics exhibition at the Battersea Park Pump House Gallery between 11 August – 25 September, which also freatures work by Dave McKean, Adam Dant and the excellently named Daniel Merlin Goodbery. You can read more previews of Montague Terrace here and Warren tells me that the videos from the installation will probably appear online at some point in the future.
After only seeing Warren around town approximately every 5 years I bizarrely I bumped into him and his lovely wife, Sue, again this afternoon after just over a week since I last saw them! Brighton's getting smaller!

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