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Biscuits: Assorted s/c

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Biscuits: Assorted s/c back

Jenny Robins


Page 45 Review by Stephen

Come, meet some new friends. You’ll feel like you’ve known them for years!

If my favourite part of this job is providing top-notch recommendations tailored specifically to readers’ tastes, then perhaps the greatest pleasure of all is being taken completely by surprise by a graphic novel – debut of otherwise – which renders me wide-eyed with wonder and so slack-jawed (after an hour or two aching with laughter) that I cannot wait for someone new to walk through the door so that I can press the book fervently into their hands.

Current status...? Unequivocally ecstatic, thanks.

Jenny Robins’s BISCUITS (ASSORTED) is a delicious, grin-inducing joy – as well as one of the most effortlessly accessible and all-inclusive celebrations of friendships that I’ve ever been blessed to stumble across.

Not only are there more sparkling rejoinders per page than any other comic I can think of – even John Allison’s wit-ridden BAD MACHINERY – but I cannot think of anything quite like this in terms of structure, which is extraordinary given how obviously winning it is in retrospect.

Over the course of 300 pages, many, many stories will unfold, served up in one- two- or three-page conversational snippets before we’re led gaily away to see what some other women are up to. The book’s dip-in, dip-out structure leaves its readers room to pause and to ponder, to smile and reflect. It’s like hopping between tables down a pub populated by the most fascinating folk all up for brand-new experiences and a pretty decent crack.

I warn you right now that it’s not without the odd moment of quiet courage in the wake of tremendous adversity, but that courage is as impressive and infectious as the fun.

Running throughout the book - between the brief bursts of evolving story - is an extrapolation of the cover’s cookie-cover motif as characters pop up and are spotlit once, twice or several more times, with equally evolving and often satirical one-sentence status summaries appended. The idea being, of course, that we are all individuals far more likely to surprise than we are – thank god – to conform uniformly either to some bizarre homogenous physical and mental shape or indeed or own characters as perceived by others.

And I don’t have time to write much more tonight, but right in the centre the threads converge at least geographically on London’s South Bank during a feminist festival, before our friends bid each other a fond farewell and get on with the rest of their lives.

Indeed, BISCUITS (ASSORTED) bursts with a spirit of place – that place being London – in all its contrasting and often crammed together higgeldly-piggeldy glory, with majestic full-page architectural collages providing additional chapter breaks.

The detail is rich and the textures quite worked but not overwhelming – this book is so full of space! Better still, the gestures are just-so expressively, and each individual’s facial reactions dance from gleeful or aghast to contemplatively serene. Although I think Maya, perpetually on the phone while travelling by The Tube, is going to come away with a very stiff neck.

Jenny Robins’s BISCUITS (ASSORTED) is December 2020’s Page 45 Comicbook Of The Month.

Moreover, it has leapfrogged, legs akimbo, over hundreds upon hundreds of other comics to find itself quite startlingly in my Top Twenty Favourite Graphic Novels Of All Time.