I really like Phonogram. It’s one of those comics you like, that’s like no other and that you don’t really expect anyone else to like apart from you and are suddenly surprised to find out how manyother people like it as well and before you know it, Edgar Wright Jr is making a movie of it and you’re going what the hell, did the paradigm of the universe suddenly shift while I was eating a packet of Bovril crisps.
Thing is while I like music, I follow certain musicians and I clearly have a likes/dislikes list that says yes to horns in pop songs, tight harmonies, clever puns and rhymes and flat South London accents, I don’t have a iPod, I don’t actually have that many CDs and the last time I actually went to a gig was with a bunch of workmates to see Lucky Soul (who I did like, but just didn’t realise quite how much until a week afterwards). I’m a sad dad.
Anyway this is a preamble to the point that Phonogram is one of those comics that may be about the obsession of music but you don’t have to know or even actually like anything about music to enjoy. Like High Fidelity or The Wrestler, Top Gear or Paul. All about people expressing their compulsive tastes, but it’s the shape of things that are entertaining. Will you gain a little if you have a (very small) stack of Kenicke CDs? Possibly. But odds are you’ll obsess over those small details and may miss the bigger picture.
The second series of Phonogram is a selection of single of stories that stand on their own but occur similtaneously with a number of the same characters in the same location. The cast is made of up those who practice or are connected to the chractice of phonomancy, magic through music. Which lets the creators talk about, basically, how magic music is, how music affects people like magic and how it becomes part of your life. Except bu setting this series in a club that eschews the practice of magic, it enables there to be, well, a lot less about magic than the first series and a lot more about music. Which most people have a little more experience in.
And so we get these incredibly cool single strand stories that knit themselves into richer tapestries, lots of young (looking) bodies pulling attractive pipette-like shapes, and a genuinely entertaining tale about people. Well, mostly people.
This issue is about identity, how we change as people, how we change as our tastes evolve. Except with magic of course. Which helps to literalise all sorts of subtexts. It’s one thing to remember the person you used to be, it’s another to hold a conversation with them in the club toilet mirror.
It’s also exciting, fluid, full of personality. This is a continuing greatmodern comic book. So don’t buy it, don’t read it, don’t even remember I told you about it. After all I really hate to share.
Phonogram #3 by Kieron Gillen, Jamie McKelvie and Matt Wilson is published by Image Comics this week. Possibly. Forget I said anything.