The Phonogram Critical Revival

It’s been an odd couple of weeks. While there’s always been a low level chatter around Phonogram, there’s been an upsurge in people talking about the two books. Jamie and me have been linking to the Comics Alliance postmortem interview to explain why, no, there probably won’t be a third series a whole bunch, as people seem to have discovered the books and want to know more about them.

I’m actually going to do a “State of the Nation” post at the top of the Phonogram site, to link to a whole bunch of stuff people would be interested in. I suspect it’s worthwhile, because if people do wonder “So – what’s going on with Phonogram”, the site is the first place to look. And I can add links to places to buy it too, so we can make more money. Hurrah for money!

Anyway – as well, as that, there’s been quite a few reviews popping up. So many I’ve ever misplaced a couple I had saved in tabs somewhere. They vary from new games-criticism-chronicler Ben Abraham reading it and sort of melting his head a little, to Bobsy Mindless finally finishing his series of reviews with his continued automythological excess about issue 7 (though really about everything, as is only right). Hell, there’s even been a re-emergence of the traditional ooh-that-Phonogram growl-reviews.

The biggest one has been the already-mentioned Colin “Too Busy Thinking About Comics” Smith whose planned 2-parts ended up ballooning to an enormous 6-part dissection of Rue Britannia. Which is an odd one to read. McK and me tend to be quite down on Rue Britannia, and seeing something like this does remind us that “Oh yeah – all that stuff was swishing around inside that black pop-metal cauldron”. And we did, damn us, write it wanting people to write this kind of stuff about it. Phonogram was always meant to be a dark pop-thrill and something to be dissected.

Here’s all six essays.

Retromancing; First Thoughts On Kieron Gillen & James McKelvie’s “Phonogram: Rue Britannia”
I’m Not A Man:- More First Thoughts On Kieron Gillen & Jamie McKelvie’s “Phonogram: Rue Britannia” (Part 2)
“None Of This Is Anything To Do With Me.”:- Avoiding The Lecturn & The Pulpit In Kieron Gillen & Jamie McKelvie’s “Phonogram: Rue Britannia” (Part 3)
Yes, Even More First Thoughts On Kieron Gillen & Jamie McKelvie’s “Phonogram: Rue Britannia””
The Penultimate First Thoughts On Kieron Gillen & Jamie McKelvie’s “Phonogram”
Final First Thoughts On Kieron Gillen & Jamie McKelvie’s “Phonogram: Rue Britannia” (Part 6 of 6)

Were you to just read two, I’d guide you to part four (which centers on what Jamie does on the page) and part five (which nails down a key aspect underlying Phonogram – that all of them are deeply, deeply flawed people. Even the ones you like. Seeing Kid-with-knife being taken apart is a particular joy. As Colin puts it: “charm isn’t the same as virtue.”) It’s also nice to have a single-link definitive argument why Phonogram is an anti-elitism book.

Honestly, read ’em all if you care about this sort of thing at all.


When we’re talking comic-crit, Jody McGregor is writing a list of 100 COMICS TO READ BEFORE YOU DIE (or grow out of them) and has just reached the top 10. A really good take on working on a personal canon, taking you all over the medium.