Page 45 Review by Stephen
"Good morning, garden."
Far more clever and carefully structured than you might initially suspect, from the creator of SNAILS, comes a larger and longer work, also signed and sketched in at the back.
Brougham presents us with three intimate short stories told in a free-floating, six-panel 'grid' of neatly spaced cameos drawn with a fine line rich in detail and redolent of country village life. In his garden the lines are more orderly, neater, whilst out in the fields the textures of the undergrowth, hedges and trees grow wilder.
So, here's that structure:
In the first story, of a morning when one is still fuzzy-headed, most of the thoughts and sensations are communicated as visual impressions. There's the back ache and the knee joint in need of much lubrication, then as he sets off to walk with his head in the clouds his head becomes increasingly cluttered with associated mental images, one catalysing another then another - things-to-do lists, computer screens and keyboards - all linked together and threatening to crowd out then overwhelm him until he steps over a wooden style onto a footpath... and emerges into wide-open fields, far more serene. Then something magical happens.
By noon, in the second, the Librarian is coherent enough to ruminate verbally on the present, visually cataloguing the component parts of his village - including those squat concrete fire hydrant markers I'd completely forgotten since leaving the countryside - which he imagines sending in a letter to I won't tell you where.
Then finally at night, he is in the mood to reminisce and casts his mind back to the past.
That seems like the natural order of things to me.
I only have interior art for the first episode, but in that third it's New Year's Eve - ever a time of reflection - and he's out for a stroll, the streetlights firing up, as they do, in no fixed order.
"Frost crackles underfoot.
"They're getting them in at the Black Bull."
I love that he perceives life through walls and via the smoke rising through canal-barge chimneys. What he becomes fixated on - of all things - is a zoo whose exotic animals had lived, breathed then died where now stands a Sainsbury's roundabout. It's quite an ornate one, full of foliage.
"He thinks of Rosie's ghost out there on the periphery, stranded on the roundabout...
"And the rest of the zoo animals with her there, out on a herbaceous ark, floating through darkness."
They make quite the racket too so, for those two panels at least, I was minded of ALEC's Eddie Campbell.
Rosie was the zoo's star attraction, by the way: an elephant with a heartbreaking history. She's been long since forgotten, but Librarians look after the past, don't they, making sure it's accessible to the present. A gesture is required to record Rosie's existence, so a specific sign is swapped...