1991: Velocity

Velocity (1991) #4-5 by Gary and Warren Pleece.

Urr… “First US issue?” Oh, I see… comics.org says that the first three issues were self-published by the Pleece brothers in the UK, and then Acme/Eclipse published these two issues, and then the sixth and final issue was self-published by them again in the UK.

As commercial strategies go, this can’t possibly be the best one, I’d have thought. There are so many obsessive-compulsive comics readers that just can’t start with anything except issue #1…

So what is this, then? An anthology? No individual credits are given for each story… Oh! All the stuff in here is by Gary and Warren Pleece. Perhaps… it would have made sense to write that somewhere instead of assuming that everybody’s in on details like that?

But but but THAT”S BEAUTIFUL! The artwork’s like nothing I was expecting! It’s like if somebody took Tardi’s costume drawing technique and crossed that with Pratt’s figures and Muñoz’s eye for spotting blacks! These are seriously gorgeous pages.

And the story’s pretty great too; a wistful anti-nostalgic thing with many juxtapositions and much flexing of different comics storytelling techniques. Very nice!

And then there’s a pretty far out text…

And a funnier, continued and complicated story about some guys wanting to buy carrots. Was this perhaps continued from previous issues? It seems to have a depth to its environs that’s very gripping.

And then a page of pure fun at the end.

What a wonderful comic book. It’s like perfect little distillation of everything that was good about 80s UK comics. Now I feel sad that I didn’t know about this book before.

The fifth issue is more of the same brilliant stuff. I just want to point to this page that’s filled to the brim with stuff and still perfectly paced. There’s an abundance of detail if you want that, and if not, it’s a pretty funny page. And with such wonderful artwork.

The main storyline doesn’t really reach any conclusion, but the other two shorter pieces are pretty spiffy. Especially the final one about the guys (or is it just one guy?) on the train. Excellent.

What’s this then? Another Eclipse book I’ve missed?! This page says that David Chelsea contributed to it… But I can find no other mention of Anxiety Times from Eclipse Comics/Books/Enterprises, so it never happened? Yup, Don McGregor confirms: “it was due to appear in a number of different Eclipse comics, but it never saw print”. And then they lost Gene Colan’s artwork… *sigh*

Well, these are the twilight years in Eclipse’s history, so weird things are happening… like them publishing these two issues.

I’ve just had a peek on ebay, and getting the other issues of Velocity seems impossible. But Escape Books released a Los Bros Pleece collection in 2016, The Great Unwashed, which is supposed to collect most of this stuff, so I’ve just bought that:

Straightaway there was something about the brothers’ work that stood them apart from the bulk of the (sometimes slightly precious) small press stuff I was reading at the time.

On the surface, Warren’s bold, confident, noirish art caught the eye at once. But then, the way a fine beer leaves a pleasing finish on the palate, the sly wit and satirical edge of the stories made the brothers a creative team whose work I’d always seek out.

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