This year I have made a conscious decision to try and read more independent and small press comics, with that in mind I had a look at what was on offer at the local comic shop.
What I found was a comic called Ladies & Gentleman not only is it independent but it has been written, drawn and produced by two lads who are local to the area (Leeds).
The comic is set in Victorian London and comes with all the trapping you would expect from that era, dark alleys with fog filled gas lit cobbeled streets. The main players of the book are The Gent, a mask wearing fighter of what seems extraordinary strength a man of few words, to be honest none at all. The Lady a sexy powerful suffragette (is that a contradiction) who has a quick temper and is deadly with a knife, Peppered Moth a gentlemen spy who dresses as a highwayman and is a sharp shot. The most interesting character (for me) is Hex a stage illusionist, who has more than a passing acquaintance with alcohol he also seems to be the most reluctant member of the team. Finally there's Ned an ageing landlord who provides a headquarters under his pub the Cog and Spring, together they go under the name of The Gentry.
The premise of this first issue is that there have been a spate of murders on the streets of London (well there’s a shock), all the victims have been found torn apart with none of the admirable skill that was used by Jack the Ripper, The Lady’s words not mine. As all the victims were well to do gentlemen and not prostitutes Hex is used as bait to flush the killer out, which is odd as he is neither well to do or a gentlemen however without giving too much away all does not go according to plan.
Given that the story is called the Curse of the Were-Hyena and other Horrible Hybrids, it doesn’t take a genius to figure out this is not going to be as easy a mision our heroes think it will be. We are also introduced to Sarah Copperthwaite as she surches for her missing uncle who is a Cryptozoologist at the London museum, as Sarah appears on the inside cover with the rest of the Gentry its fair to say she will be part of the team at some point. As the issue draws to a close the heroes are faced with what looks like an impossible situation, deep underground within the sewers of London, oh I do love a cliffhanger.The comic has a League of Extraordinary Gentlemen feel to it, and clearly draws some influence from those books, which is not a bad thing. The artwork is excellent, and artist Jordan Collver captures the feel of a dirty grubby Victorian London perfectly. All the characters are very well drawn even to the point of getting their facial expressions just right, something more high profile artists sometimes fail to do.
The front cover artwork is stunning and was the main reason I picked the book up, as it stood out from the other comics on the shelf. Writer Richard Worth's story grabs you from the first page, and continues to flow seamlessly from panel to panel for the rest of the book. At no point while reading the book did my interest wane, and I read it twice before putting it down.
I fully intend to read it again after writing this review.
I also did a little research into the comic (I used Google) and found there is a web page and Facebook page, and a 9 minute documentary on In the Gutter showing how the comic was put together. All are worth a look, links to them are below
I recommend this comic to any one and encourage you to seek it out, it can be bought direct from the web page so you don't even have to leave the comfort of your home to get it. I for one will be asking my comic shop to put aside issue 2 when it comes out.