Page 45 Review by Jonathan
"We all feel small sometimes.
"It's quite normal to have hopes and dreams fill our heads with bubbly excitement from time to time. It's also quite normal for those moments to inexplicably lead us down dark paths and exploded bathrooms.
"There are always lessons to be learned.
"I just hope I remember that when I am next scared and lost down a dark path surrounded by scary gnomes with sticks."
Digby is about have a bad day. A very bad day.
Not quite on the level of Jose Domingo's ADVENTURES OF A JAPANESE BUSINESSMAN, I'll grant you, but it's up there. Job interviews can ruin your chilled-out vibe like that, don't you find?
It all started out so well too, with a hearty al fresco breakfast followed by a little accidental dungeoneering, broken up by backgammon with friendly goblins and convivial chats with other chums like the giant spider and the demogorgon. Digby even arrived in the nick of time for his interview after a brief misunderstanding with a bridge troll!
But then his composure began to unravel with the onset of a gippy tummy, a bubbling belly that caused him to mishear a question and begin to experience mid-interview anxieties promptly leading to full-on panic. Even after some extreme emergency wizardly... emissions... which resulted in him levelling half the building, he somehow still thinks he's in with a great chance of landing the job! He's clearly one of life's great optimists, our Digby...
Back home, however, following the inevitable bad news after the usual protracted delay in hearing anything, that's when the metaphorical shit storm promptly whooshes into town to really blow him away. A case of life imitating fart, perhaps... But as poor old Digby begins to rapidly learn that not gaining errr... gainful employment is about to be the least of his burgeoning problems, I was just chuckling with increasing mirth at his travails and lack of travail, and thinking how glad I am not to have to endure job interviews any more.
Told mainly in a two by three grid panel per page pattern, with the odd spectacular full-page spread or elongated landscape thrown in for good measure, this is a silent affair, though jovially narrated through the conceit of a single, simple surreal / sarcastic / sympathetic sentence hand-scribed below each illustration. There are no panel borders as such, just white gutters. Thus it gives this work the visual feel of a collection of carefully assembled Polaroid pictures, which I loved.
Joe's art style is wonderfully loose, deceptively simple, yet upon examination reveals a tremendous amount of work, particularly in the countryside and forest backgrounds. Whilst Joe employs a heavier line, this did - perhaps for its delightfully whimsical approach - stylistically remind me of Jordan Crane's sadly out of print THE CLOUDS ABOVE. In terms of colour palette he's gone for a Feldgrau grey-green that varies in shade decorated with splashes of scarlet as Digby begins to really lose the plot!
Originally a Kickstarter project from Joe Latham, whose magnificent, synergistic triptych THE FOX / THE WOLF / THE WOODSMAN we could scarcely keep on our shelves when it first came out, I happen to know there are only a handful of these hardcover beauties left to purchase, and that there will be no reprints...