This week we have been all astir as we received a new publication off our favourite comic tycoon, John A. Short (http://kultcreations.blogspot.co.uk/) and it has caused no end of discussion here at the rookery. We recently interviewed John and have in the past reviewed his excellent comic The Clock Strikes. His new comic The Sixpenny Murder is something very different.
It concerns a senseless crime, the murder of a passerby in Liverpool in 1875 by a group of youths who ask him for a tanner (that’s six old pence to all you post decimalisation dudes out there, who are not as aged as us here in the rookery) (That’s two and a half pence in today’s money – Ed.) to buy beer. John economically and elegantly tells the tale of the “Thithebarn Street Outrage” as the press of the day dubbed the murder, in a brief afterword he explains that all the events and the dialogue are based on actual records of the case.
The illustrations by the mighty David Hitchcock are superb, he captures the essence of the brutal times the criminals existed in and the hopeless lives that they had lived. David manages to convey the soulless, machinery of the law, blind justice grinding inexorably onward. I suspect that David has visited the cells at St. Georges Hall (http://www.stgeorgesliverpool.co.uk/visit/heritage_centre/index.asp) as he captures the atmosphere of the cells and law court with his artwork. He lovingly evokes Victorian Liverpool, one of the rookeries favourite cities (after Barcelona – Ed). I’d also like to highlight the lettering by JAS (could this be the hand of the magnate himself we ask?).
What has set us yorping and arguing all week has been how contemporary aspects of this murder are, demonised youth, knife crime and the role of the press in making a brutal, senseless act, that had dire consequences for all concerned, into an opportunity to sell papers and promote a frightening view of society. We have also been struck by the lack of support services available to the dispossessed and the disadvantaged, how the government had failed the vulnerable (sound familiar? – Ed).
The story was edited by Emily Alison of Portagoras Forensic Services and Interventions Ltd and is produced as part of the Change Places + scheme. The aim of which is establishing a positive core identity for young people, increasing confidence, empathy and interpersonal skills. A key aim of the programme is to reduce gang linked and weapon orientated violence. The comic is a non-profit venture and so we here in the rookery take our hat’s off to John.