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Dan Berry

Price: 
5.00

Page 45 Review by Stephen

"So basically, it is really easy, everything works first time and you spend your days in satisfied bliss."

So that's The Business of Illustration, your career as a creator, and our lives mapped out ahead of us. It all sounds very familiar to me, and I will sleep infinitely easier tonight.

But then there's the title, isn't there?

This is a day in the life of Dan Berry, written and illustrated hourly as it unfolded: what could possibly go wrong?

Over the centuries the human race has strived to leave itself decreasingly at risk from the weather. We've built houses, bought umbrellas and even erected orange and yellow striped wind-breaks on beaches. (Is that still a thing?) Some days, however, that just doesn't cut the mustard.

Over the last few decades, the human race as also strived with all its considerable, intellectual and inventive might to leave itself increasingly at the mercy of machines. There's barely an institution that can function any longer if its computer systems crash, apart from Mrs Apiary's Homemade Honey Pot stall in South Swithernshire. They don't need to rise up en masse and enslave the human race in a post-apocalyptic wasteland to be a cause of never-ending grief. As every one of us knows it is enough for them to sit there in our homes and offices, wilful and recalcitrant on a daily basis.

SENT / NOT SENT. SAVED / NOT SAVED.

These things were sent to thwart us.

We've even brought them alive by imbuing them in our heads with exactly these mean-spirited motivations and emotions. Don't make them angry; you wouldn't like them when they're angry.

Berry brings all this to the fore early on, along with his role as a Dad to both his children and his cat ("I'm not your Dad") on the very first page. For something so seemingly spontaneous and extemporised there's an awful lot of serendipitous stage-setting for a killer drive-home dovetailing and an infuriated admonishment most parents will recognise with a grin.

I've approached reviews of Berry's comics in different ways, be they THE END, THE THREE ROOMS IN VALERIE'S HEAD, CARRY ME, the Eisner-Award-nominated 24 BY 7 or THE SUITCASE, a former Page 45 Comicbook Of The Month, but it is THROW YOUR KEYS AWAY which inspired me to write about the sheer energy and infectiousness of the man's cartooning and its wild gesticulations. There will be a great deal more flailing and wailing before his day's done, but since I've singled out machines let's end with another of my favourite pages for its second-panel evocation of recoiling, venomous, looks-could-kill fury.

"It isn't going to be one of those days, is it?"

Yes, Dan. Yes, it is.

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