One of the most enjoyable things about comics shows like Comiket is finding stuff that you’ve meant to pick up for ages but, you know, just never got round to, and there it is, with the creator standing there, and a kid saying “Can you buy this for me please, Daddy, it looks wonderful.”
And in Philippa Rice’s My Cardboard Life, it does. A collection of webcomic strips going back to 2008 that are such a refreshing slap in the face to your expectations of what comics are that I can’t believe these haven’t been repeatedly nominated for the kind of awards that are meant to reflect just this kind of thing.
Carboard Colin and Paper Pauline are the stars in this comic, created by cutting out pieces of paper, cardboard, whatever comes to hand, and creating stories. It’s not a new technique, but I haven’t seen it used to such success to create comic stories before, certainly not over such a length. Philipps tells me it’s inspired by cut-out animation, but putting it in the comics medium feels utterly fresh. Even though it’s five years old.
The gags are great (Voodoo pancakes is a favourite), but there’s charm, tragedy, hope, the human condition, all portrayed not with a few lines, but a few cut out shapes. It’s another example that comic books can be whatever we want them to be. And often what we never expected them to be, too. If you haven’t read Philippa Rice’s work, it’s time to catch up.
My Cardboard Life is online, but buying the big compilation in print has to be your priority. Because, yes, while I bought it for my eldest daughter, really truly and honestly I was buying it for me.