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07 May 2008

Tom England and others MALLARD #3

Mallard #3 by Tom England, Christopher Leahy, Joe Baddeley, Fuong Nguyen, Dan Dyer and Claire Symonds.
32 pages. Black and white cover and interior.

Mallard is a comic/zine mailed over by Tom England from the U.K. It sells for one pound which, in rapidly falling dollars, could be like $75 for all I know. This book got me to thinking about my own zinester days and how much tings have changed. "Back in the day" you would make a zine, print it up, give them out at rock shows or sell them at rekerd stores and that would be it. Their life lasted a few weeks and then you forgot about them. Now with the whole introwebnet nerdtology available today these things can find an audience all around the world. The niche market is the mainstream market now and a little zine can find an audience and maybe, just maybe make a few pounds/dollars.

This book is well edited as far as anthology/zines go. The contents, pages, art etc. are all laid out very nicely. The prose bits are broken up by some funny gag comics by Joe Braddely. I assume that Tom England is the editor and he made some nice choices as to the running order of the comics and stories. The book starts off with part three of a prose piece by Christopher Bernard Leahy. I like the idea of serializing prose in a zine like this. The story itself is written well enough. The first page or so is bogged down with a lot of scenery description but once the dialog gets going Leahy shows some potential. It's hard to judge a work based on an eight page excerpt but I get the feeling it's the type of thing I probably would not make it through unless a college course grade depended on it. But, that probably says more about my tastes and attention span than Leahy's talents.
The prose if followed by a comics section. Fuong Mai Nguyen's pieces are slight but interesting. Dany Dyer has a couple of pages of college humor bases strips. The first page seems to be hastily drawn but the second is more polished and is about equal in quality to the average webcomic. Joe Baddely's comics are gag strips with talking stick figures. They are pretty funny and set a nice tone for the rest of the book. I give credit to both Baddely and the editor for doing a great job of pacing the book with a quick laugh on nearly every page.

The strongest comics of the book are by Tom England. (Sampled above.) The writing is strong. Part philosophy, part fictional diary, part humor. Somewhere between Harvey Pekar and Chris Ware. The drawing is very simple yet comprehensive. He does a great job juxtaposing the tone of the the dialog with the emotion of the drawing. I would really like to see more of England's comics.

The final piece of the book is a fun little story by Claire Symonds called The Philosophical Hog. In the story a council of forest animals is called together to decide how to deal with the disturbing noises coming from the tummy of a hog. The hog in question has decided to fast in order to empty his stomach so that he may eat the entirety of the world. It is cute, clever and slightly morbid. A fun read.
All in all I say this Mallard anthology/comic/zine thing delivers. Some pieces are stronger than others but it's a nicely edited book that more than satisfies the entertainment to cover price ratio. (Whatever that may be in US dollars.)
Your best pal ever,
Shannon Smith
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