Spring has sprung, flowers are in bloom and the latest PARAGON has hit the proverbial stands, chockfull of nature’s bounty. Not that I’m suggesting great comics grow on trees, but my small contribution, a somewhat experimental ‘Spencer Nero’ two-pager, certainly features plenty of bark, and hopefully a little bite. The story is based around my strange fascination with metal-eating trees, focusing specifically on The Bicycle Tree of Brig O’ Turk in the Trossachs, albeit suitably embellished. Not that such things are unique to the Loch Lomond neck of the woods – here’s a photo I took of a hungry tree near the village of Strichen.
Art on ‘The Bicycle Tree’ is by small-press star James Corcoran, with a particularly pivotal lettering job by John Caliber. The original plan was to do the story as two nine-panel grids, but it’s ended up as two splash pages instead – probably for the best, particularly when it comes to showcasing James’s sublime art. And indeed, corking art is the order of the day in #16, with a lovely double dose of the fantastic El Chivo, the Newell / Candlish combo breathing life into Mark Howard’s ‘Bludd and Xandi’ (haven’t read that one yet, looking forward to it!) and, of course, the PARAGON debut of Jason Cobley’s legendary Bulldog, ably handled by Stephen Prestwood (see, Prestwood – another tree connection!) By sheer coincidence, I happened to pick up two ‘Bulldog’ collections in Aberdeen’s Oxfam Books quite recently – they’re the work of a man who clearly has comics flowing through his very veins. Cracking stuff – the new story is a real highlight of the issue.
And so it only remains to suggest you pick up a copy – c'mon, don’t be a sap!