Saturday, 3 January 2009

[115] Badger, by Howard Hardiman

In a bout of post-Christmas wealth, I spent part of the £10 given to me by my kind, generous next door neighbours from Salford not on groceries or council tax or Oyster card top up, but on a lovely, moving little comic book called Badger, by a (very!) local artist called Howard Hardiman.

I met Howard at the Comiket at the ICA back in November, and his little books about animals caught my eye. I looked at the back of the Badger book, and saw the following blurb: The sad tale of a lonely badger living in a flat in South London... I quickly asked where in South London Badger lived, and after Howard said 'Brockley', we had a nice little chat about buses that run in between there and Peckham. I couldn't buy the book at the time, because I didn't have the money to spare; and here we are. Last week, a little package fell through the letter slot and Badger was inside.

Badger is a story, presented in un-narrated illustrations, about the anthropomorphic title character and his life. It is quiet, repetitive and touchingly sad. His daily routine of waking, cooking, washing and sleeping is only punctuated by trips to the sandwich shop or the local park. Even though the work is short, and the story is relatively simple in its narration, Hardiman's observations are strikingly evocative. The resulting sequences touch on the isolation of urban life, as well as loneliness, hesitation, uncertainty and the sense of not fitting in.

Hardiman's rough, unadorned, almost child-like style may not be immediately impressive to those sustained by top-grade comic art. Nevertheless, his illustrations, which bring to mind felt-tip pen doodles, approach a kind of plain, innocent eloquence, which strengthen the emotional sweep of the book. His aesthetic is best described by his own website name, 'Cute But Sad'.

I wholeheartedly recommend Badger: it is a charming and quietly moving book.

Check out the Badger comic in its original form on Flickr here.
Read an absurdly glowing review of
Badger by Richard Bruton at the Forbidden Planet Blog.

1 comment:

The Pirate King said...

Aww, just noticed this! Thank you!

...although we might not be neighbours for long as I'm moving west soon!