Page 45 Review by Stephen
Rob Grafton and Loise Bright are young, in love and engaged to be married. But with the pound so strong exports are drying up, traditional industries in The Potteries are suffering, and they both find themselves unexpectedly unemployed. Practical, determined Louise makes an extra effort to find new opportunities, even if it means retraining, but her fiancé remains obsessed about his old job, won't even admit to friends that he's lost it, and begins to waste away in front the of the television. With Rob, the proverbial ostrich, unwilling to relinquish luxuries - or even begin that discussion - he creates the first void in their relationship and the cracks soon appear.
Watson's art is simple, elegant and conveys more emotion in a single-line brow than most painters can summon in oils. The writing is so astute, the empathy evoked here so immediate, that I knew and cared for both these individuals, and understood their friends as well as their friends' various attitudes towards their plight. Nor is it a predictable read, with crests and troughs, the fine lines between tenacity and stubbornness being explored with a perceptive understanding of natural pride, whilst sympathy from friends is tainted by competitiveness before being exhausted as Rob tries both Loise's and their own patience to breaking point. You can see where Rob's coming from but wince at each wrong turn, and although again his love for Louise is painfully obvious and sincere, with him all it's too little and too late. Heart-rending stuff, then, as good as you'll find on Channel 4 and even more fleshed out than Sim's take on similar domestic issues in JAKA's STORY. Far from being heavy - a single glance at the interior art will reassure you of this - it's perfect summer reading, so those of you who consider Tomine, Clowes, the Hernandez Brothers or Nabiel Kanan to be the tops of quiet fiction are hereby exhorted to snap up this poignant British masterpiece.