Sunday, 23 February 2014

Laptop Guy Day

Having begun life as a compilation of short stories, Laptop Guy is heading for the big leagues. With the grand launch happening as part of the GFF - featuring a rare appearance of Jack Lothian, writer of Laptop Guy and some other stuff that is quite popular on TV (Skins, Ashes to Ashes, Spooks et c) - and the third issue promised in the next few months, Laptop Guy follows Royal Descent as part of Black Hearted Press campaign to demonstrate that Scotland's Got Comics.

Despite his modest origins, Laptop Guy  is an increasingly sophisticated magazine. Lothian's skill as a screenwriter is especially evident in issue two: the cunning use of titles evokes television, and the cliffhanger ending has an elegant ambiguity. While the central narrative concerns the conflict between beleaguered artist and his computer nemesis, the support characters are given space to develop. A comprehensive reality is sketched out around the fantastic plot, evoking the painful comedy of Curb Your Enthusiasm as the artist discovers that Laptop Guy is more than just an idea he had on a bad day.

As with many of the best comics, there is a sense that Laptop Guy could only be told through panels and speech bubbles: the surreal horror of the central episode works because of the lightness of the illustration and the precision of the character's expression. A clear use of colour - the cover's rich blue hints at how the mood within is created through the hues and tones - and a traditional, exact panel scheme ensures that the story-telling is coherent.

The story itself loops around a nice meta-concept, slipping in the gaps but poking at the oppressive presence of technology, the problems of low wages fighting high aspirations and the prejudice faced by a man who just wants to draw. There's enough satire on the comic-biz to amuse the fans, without ever losing sight of a more general audience... Lothian structures the story like a sitcom, moving from drama to comedy and then banging the two together for the darker sequences.

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