Paul Rainey has been self publishing his comics since the nineties, reaching a height of awareness with his Memory Man book. But he never got grabbed by a major publisher, whether than be Jonathan Cape or Marvel Comics. He just found new comics to write and draw.
His latest is Thunder Brother: Soap Division, a comic that sits somewhere between Anna Mercury and The Invisibles, if it were directed by Mike Leigh. This very mundane look at the incredible may remind you of Paul Grist’s Mud Man, but this is both satirical and cosmic in its scale.
Because there are many worlds, many dimensions, all around us. And we film them, and put the footage out as soap operas to save on writing and production costs. And The Soap Division are there to keep everything running smoothly. And the comic focuses on the procedural process of such an affair, and the lives of those who work on it. Including the seemingly-air phobic Thunder Brother.
It’s a surprising comic that gives us robots showing empathy, people coming face to face with their fictional reality, and a girl finding that her dream job is sometimes quite the burden. And it satisfies that nagging feeling that someone, somewhere, is pulling our strings. It’s funny, clever, thrilling and just that bit too silly.
And because this is a British comic, steeped in tradition, it has back up strips. One of which has a sensational conceit that smacks of some kind of halfway house between Being Human and Randall And Hopkirk (Deceased), in which a guy dies and becomes a ghost and his body becomes a zombie. And they must live together. Why? Because a judge made them. It’s a wacky comedy that deserves a series of its own.
If you’re the kind of person who likes the work of Paul Grist and John Layman, or who harkens back to a time of Deadline, Exit, Escape and Revolver, this is the kind of comic you should be buying. Rainey serialises the comic on his blog, a page every Sunday, so it should be easy to see if you get a taste for it.
And even if you don’t, you still should be buying it.