Page 45 Review by Stephen
"You're tacky and boring and I roll my eyes at you so much my eyeball wires have gone curly."
The disdain in those hooded eyes!
BFFs stands for Best Friends Forever - in polite circles, anyway. I like the way the plural is transposed in the acronym. I always assumed it hadn't been, and that the first F was an expletive denoting either the extreme strength of the bond, withering sarcasm or our present-day, perpetually potty mouths.
From the creator of SOPPY, WE'RE OUT, ST COLIN AND THE DRAGON, MY CARDBOARD LIFE and RECYCLOST, these snort-inducing comedy shorts star Philippa and her sister - who may or may not be fictional - in conversation snap-shots either in person or by text. Her sister does most of the talking, more often than not at Philippa's expense. It's partly the cartooning, which we'll come to in a second, but also the hyperbole that's so hilarious: the extreme and elaborate nature of the put-downs, especially in the cramped train carriage sketch conducted via cell phone. It's beautifully orchestrated as a dip in the middle so that the tirade erupts almost out of nowhere before being deflected by a virtual non-sequitur from Philippa, after which the target of the ire / petulance is redirected once more towards her sister's fellow travellers.
Anyway, the sister has just been squashed against a man whose coat "stinks of old smoke and rotting vegetables" and is clearly overdue for a weekend break at a dry cleaner's. Philippa:
"I'd just spritz it with some deodorant."
"That's why you stink."
"You stink of boiled eggs."
"You stink of the egg smell that comes out when you open a packet of cooked chicken slices."
"You bathe in egg-water and use mayo as a face mask and have boiled egg slices on your eyes."
"Eggs are good for you."
It put me in mind of Newman and Baddiel's "That's you, that is..." confrontations, except that they never made up as these two do, swiftly, in an alliance of outrage and revenge strategies.
Rice is immediately recognisably from her autobiographical SOPPY self-portraits. Never one to shy away from self-mockery, there is a delicious panel in which she is shown enthusiastically diving, head-first and with zero dignity, into a bag of her sister's clothing cast-offs, her rounded bum up in the air, short legs and tiny, white-socked toes waving wildly.
The two BFFs' mouths - rubbery, flapping, yapping things, like hands in glove puppets - were either the inspiration for or inspired by Rice's hand-crafted woollen animals who star in her 'Soft Spot' animations (http://philippajrice.com/animation/), composed with SOPPY co-star and the creator of HILDA, Luke Pearson. That's where I first learned that Philippa could be surprisingly and delightfully rude, and so it is here.
It's less Men Behaving Badly, more Children Behaving Competitively, and all the funnier for them being adults. Drawn and lettered in a childlike manner, obviously.
As with all our Philippa Rice books other than SOPPY, each copy is both signed and sketched in for free.