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Sister BFFs h/c back

Philippa Rice


Page 45 Review by Stephen

Was your brother or sister your very best friend? And have you remained so forever? Or has it been a constant ball-and-chain battlefield from which you have never escaped?

"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!

£9-99 for a 140-page full-colour hardcover is ridiculously cheap - the publisher's bound to notice shortly - and all our initial copies come sketched-in for FREE.

This is tug-of-war territory and most of these battles begin on the sofa.

"Get your feet off me!"
"Sorry, what?"
"They stink of sewage."
"No, that's your own breath."

Quite often Philippa resorts to sitting on Holly in lieu of an argument, in order to extract a retraction or compliant silence. She gets neither.

"The only crush I have... is a crushing despair every time I remember we share a gene pool."
"Your genes aren't allowed in the pool. They've got verrucas!"

It put me in mind of Newman and Baddiel's "That's you, that is..." escalating confrontations, except that the comedians' characters never made up as these two do on occasion, in an alliance of outrage and revenge strategies. Holly's not above helping out an embattled Philippa, for example, when she's caught short of make-up in a supermarket where the former "cool guy" from school is spied working on the checkout. They help themselves to the shelves' samples of slap, Holly dutifully working her magic.

"You've a stubborn face, but I've done my best."

Then some perfume is required.

"What was that? It STINKS!"
"Um... "
""A striking fragrance designed by the hit boy band TrueGuyz". I reek of preteen."

From the creator of SOPPY, WE'RE OUT, ST COLIN AND THE DRAGON, and OUR SOPPY LOVE STORY etc, these snort-inducing comedy shorts star Philippa and her younger sister Holly - who may or may not be real - in conversational snap-shots either in person or by text. At first I suspected that Holly must surely be fictional, but the bathroom intimacy rings way too true for that.

It's partly the cartooning, 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 with 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, Holly 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 do."
"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."

Rice is immediately recognisable from her autobiographical SOPPY self-portraits. Never one to shy away from self-denigration, 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' rubber-lipped mouths are flapping, yapping things, like hands in glove puppets of ducks, squidged up against the sisters' faces, making them pudgier, more chubby-cheeked. They were either the inspiration for or inspired by Rice's hand-crafted woollen animals who star in her 'Soft Spot' animations (, 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.

"I hate my hair, I hate my face, and I hate my life."
"Well, you'll be dead one day. That's something to look forward to."

It's less Men Behaving Badly, more Children Behaving Competitively, and all the funnier for them being adults. They are obsessed by smells, particularly eggs smells but also bodily function smells and I am heartily relieved that this is not scratch-and-sniff. There's zero dignity but mass of indignation instead.

Philippa: "I don't like to think of my organs or innards. I like to think of my body as solid meat all the way through."
Holly: "I'm solid rage all the way through."