Page 45 Review by Stephen and Jonathan
"Leaflets, leaflets!" shouts Sam, picking up a leaflet. "What does it say?"
"It says don't waste paper picking up leaflets."
Ha! This comic features the best back-cover blurb ever!
"The ink-washed tale of one family's Wednesday.
"It's autobiography, but with lies."
It's certainly the most honest assessment of autobiography as entertainment and yet the most mischievous, telling you everything you need to know about Joe Decie's propensity to set the cat amongst the pigeons and revel in all the feathers flying!
"A day-in-the-life story of Joe spending time with his son," wrote Jonathan, "whilst trying with varying degrees of success to perform other essential adult tasks, this will ring many bells - a veritable cacophony, in fact - with those people who have children. It certainly did with me. As commentary on precisely just how your daily routine will never quite be the same again after the introduction of your very own personal tornado into your life it's absolutely bang on, even down to Joe's slightly wistful observation that he doesn't even have time to indulge in mild hypochondria anymore."
Campanology aside, children are inherently funny whether you've bred them or not. Minds fizzing, mouths open, internal editors entirely absent, they are an endless, free-flowing stream of nonsense, non-sequiturs and the innocently inappropriate or direct. You can't possibly listen to everything, which is why so many of Sam's speech bubbles drift off panel - out of sight, out of mind, and well out of earshot.
They will spare your feelings not one jot.
"You look really scruffy, Daddy. TURBO BOOSTER!"
They're also tenacious.
"Can I have a sister?" asks Sam, three times, as if requesting an ice cream.
It helps that Joe himself is as mildly ridiculous as the rest of us. The difference is that Joe The Deech delights in self-denigration and embellishing the already absurd. Do you really think he mans a National Dandruff Helpline?
"Do you rinse?
It's all so whimsical, almost every page accompanied by a punchline which is often prepped by one or two preceding observations about jobs, statistics and to-do-lists written after you've already to-done them in order to inflate your sense of accomplishment. There's even a joke within that joke if you look down the list. Same goes for his household objects like 'Cheap' 'Shoe'.
The ink-washed portraits are an inherent part of the comedy. Decie excels at his own body language but also his own likeness: no one else's glasses hang on their nose quite like Joe's. But they're also beautiful in their own right and some of the compositions are ever so clever - quite subtly so.
Take the first full-page panel in which those trainers appear on the bedroom floor at eye level, the only thing closer being an empty comic page. They're sleek and satisfyingly aerodynamic, drawn with the clairest of lignes, the 'Cheap' and 'Shoe' appellations appearing on one heel then the other, each under a £-sign brand. But that's by-the-by. What thrilled me was that this particular perspective threw Joe into centre-stage below an open, empty ceiling, the arm he's studying for its newfound rash exactly halfway up the page and the prime focus of a pentagon which moves from its elbow across Joe's other arm, then up to his shoulder, from there up Joe's neck, then back down Joe's angle of vision to said spotty rash on this wrist.
It's also a page of perfect three dimensions, each object or appendage cutting just a little in front of the others.
Anyway, all that sounds way too serious so I'll only add that there's a lot of clean white space on each and every page which I do so wish students of sequential art would take note of, along with the diligent economy of text. I've said it before, but Joe's lettering is amongst the most attractive and individualistic in the business, achieving the neat trick of making capital letters look and feel like lower case, and therefore more direct and accessible.