Hope For the Future #13
Writer/Artist: Simon Perrins
Price: $4.30 US/£2.70
When one reviews comics regularly, a lot of independent and self-published material makes it way across your desk (or desktop, as the case may be). There are a lot of unknown, tyro and amateur creators out there eager to promote their work, eager to catch the eye of other professionals or publishers — and, most importantly, eager just to have people see their work. Once in a while, a reviewer can happen upon a diamond in the rough, a gem of a book that hardly anybody knows about. Hope For the Future isn’t one of those gems… but it boasts the promise of being one. It’s not a diamond, but neither is it a lump of coal. It just needs a little more pressure, a little more polish, to become what it could be. I have no idea what Hope For the Future is about (and I’m not convinced creator Simon Perrins does either), but he strings together a number of scenes that impress. The problem is that those scenes don’t fit together or connect to one another in any meaningful way. His dialogue is sharp, the ideas compelling, whether they’re about the impossible or the everyday, and his art is occasionally powerful and fairly serviceable overall.
Lee and Greg hit the road, bound for a remote village in the English countryside to attend the Lizard Festival, a particularly lame music festival but one that might offer plenty of opportunities to party. While there, they encounter other 20-somethings, and the group starts swapping stories of the supernatural and the unknown purportedly connected to the area. Tales of a dark, winged beast; a lake monster; a worm-like dragon from ancient times; and a monkey-man dubbed the “Britsquatch” circulate around the group, putting everyone a little on edge. Meanwhile, the guys’ friend Hannah heads over to Lee’s place, looking to hook up with his cool, dreadlocked roommate, only to have her plans derailed by an unexpected visitor.
When it comes to faces and anatomy, Perrins has a slight consistency problem, but I have to admit I appreciated the character designs. The figures aren’t idealized, impossibly perfect ones; they’re lanky and awkward, voluptuous and clumsy. It helps to create the impression these characters are living, breathing people. The art gets much more interesting when it comes to the supernatural and surreal elements throughout the book. The full-page splash depicting the imagined Lizard people is incredibly striking, as are the other legends and myths he includes. Also impressive is the aerial view he provides of the cause of the traffic jam. I may not know what that was all about, but I do know the realistic, organic look of that particular element worked incredibly well. Furthermore, Perrins captures the immense scope of that impossible moment nicely.
There’s no discernible plot to be found in this book. It’s the most frustrating and puzzling thing about it. More often than not, it reads like a slice-of-life book, but then these impossible and weird story ideas keeping popping up, only to go unaddressed — a traffic jam caused by the impossible, monsters roaming the periphery of an English village, alien lizard overlords plotting mankind’s fate from parts unknown. I honestly have no idea what Hope For the Future is supposed to be about. Even if the supernatural stuff is incidental, there’s not really a clear character arc running through the book either (at least not this issue).
Another problem is the script’s failure to identify key characters clearly. After reading the entire issue and skimming through it again twice afterward, I have no idea which one of the two lead dudes is Lee and which one is Greg. Their names never come up in their scenes; only Hannah refers to Lee in a scene in which he’s not included, so that provides no clue as to the identities of the lead male characters either. The same can be said of Hannah’s crush and the fedora-sporting festival-goer who shares a story of a mothman-like creature.
Where Perrins succeeds is with the scripts for these independent little scenes. He includes a diversity of subject matter and correspondingly, different approaches to dialoguing and narrating each scene. Other than the fact they don’t use each other’s names, Lee and Greg’s exchanges ring true. they sound like mates giving each other a hard time, but in a playful, friendly way. Hannah’s pop-culture connection with her crush is convincing as well, especially her too-subtle, awkward attempt to attract the attention of her unnamed object of affection. I also enjoyed the illustrated “Louie, Louie” history Perrins provides in the story.
Think of Hope For the Future (or at least this particular issue) as a box containing a puzzle, but instead of a single puzzle, the pieces are from a number of disparate puzzles. There’s a blend of pieces, and there are missing pieces from all of the puzzles mixed together in the box. The pieces are meticulous jig-sawed, and one can from the snippets of the images the pieces contain that the completed pictures would be impressive. The owner of this mish-mish of puzzles simply needs to be more organized, more focused, so he can put all of the pieces together properly — or allow others to do so as well. 6/10
For more information about Hope For the Future or to purchase, visit the comic’s website.
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