Tuesday, 4 November 2008

[66] Kill Your Boyfriend, by Grant Morrison and Philip Bond [Great Comics]

Last week, amongst my planned purchases, I picked up the recent reprinting of Grant Morrison and Philip Bond's Kill Your Boyfriend, originally released in 1995 by Vertigo. The book came out around the time when Morrison was starting up his series The Invisibles, which is still seen by many as his best work. There is a lot of similarity between The Invisibles and Kill Your Boyfriend, not least in a shared anarchy and tearing up of cultural conventions. However, Kill Your Boyfriend is tightly woven, at a mere 56 pages.

The plot is pure suburban anarchic fantasy. A teenage girl, bored with her middle class upbringing, irrelevent schooling and dorky boyfriend, finds a way out of the monotony provided by a mysterious young man. Their first act is the murder of said boyfriend, and they then embark on a rampage of sex, drugs, crime and more sex. Along the way, Morrison gleefully skewers multiple elements of British society, including but not limited to, the education system, bland seaside resorts, the quirks of parliament, overly theoretical Art student revolutionaries and the church. It trips along at a good pace, with enough narrative depth and subtle referencing to give the book legs beyond the first read-through. Its themes of conformity, boredom and growing up should resonate with erstwhile Generation X-ers, and reaches an almost Blue Velvet-like pitch in the moral decay of contemporary society.

The book has a myriad of influences, and is proud to show them off. From the two-fingers to Middle England strut of Withnail & I, to the darkly humorous teenage revisionism of Heathers. Philip Bond's art is rough around the edges, just enough to give the comic a sense of identity and rebellion (it is also well-coloured by D'israeli, but I can only find B+W caps). You definitely get the feeling that this was a pet project for Morrison, and that, given some of his more literary works in the field, it was probably a weekend project as well. Nevertheless, the straightforwardness of the narrative is bolstered by a real encapsulation of the restless boredom of adolescence. The book is just as memorable, subversive, imaginitive and iconic as its forebears. It is a great exercise in the short-form, one-shot mode of comics writing. It's worth a read.


Check out Kill Your Boyfriend at Forbidden Planet, or Wikipedia.

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