Phonogram Singles Club #3

emilyDon’t be a dick, Emily.

If you haven’t been following along, Phonogram Singles Club charts one night in 2006 at the club Never on a Sunday. Each issue focuses on one clubgoer, so the secondary characters in issue #1 become the primary characters in issue#2. A word of warning: it’s verrrry British. But it’s also the finest issue yet from a tandem that seems to get better every issue.

Issue #3 concerns Emily Aster, a jaded, “cruel past the point of sadism” woman who’s a little older than Never on a Sunday’s typical clientele. Her friend David drags her out to the club, where the combination of a random encounter from her past and an Elastica song nearly break her steely resolve. Emily’s got a past life, see, and she doesn’t want that girl to ever see daylight again.

Three issues in, the second series of Phonogram seems much richer than Rue Brittania, the first. While that series did a great job portraying the shifting territory of public memory, and the vicissitudes of musical fandom, characterization was not its strong suit. Protagonist David Kohl and his buddies were familiar, but they were not immediate. This time around, the characters gain a heartbreaking resemblance to a bunch of folks I used to know. Kieron Gillen’s wisely steered the subject from musical worlds to his creations, and thus illustrates how we live through music at a more fundamental level–using Elastica as a madeline is but one example. Jamie McKelvie’s bodies and faces are so giving, so communicative:


This panel, for instance, doesn’t quite tell us everything we need to know about the characters, doesn’t quite move the plot forward, but it does give us a useful shorthand for them. Kid-with-Knife, on the left, doesn’t really know how to dance, but it doesn’t really matter to him. His arms are loosely lifted, his eyes are probably checking out a girl. Emily, center, does know how to dance (it’s the hips) but is already preparing her exit to the ladies room–her purse is in mid-handoff. She’s smirking, but she’s not smiling or laughing. She’s pretending to let the rhythm take over. Later on, she dances more authentically, parts her mouth, looks up instead of down, before she realizes that it’s Elastica, and this is a favorite of her old persona. David, meanwhile, does not know how to dance, and he knows it, which is why his movements are intentionally stiff and angular. He’s masking his inability to dance with an obvious parody of someone who doesn’t know. But he’s also having a good time, turned toward his buddies, singing along.

So go out and read it!


3 Responses to “Phonogram Singles Club #3”

  1. 1 Jamie McKelvie June 18, 2009 at 1:12 am

    As an artist it’s always enormously satisfying to see people get what you are trying to do. Spot on observations regarding the dancing.

  2. 2 Mark August 20, 2009 at 7:22 am

    “He’s masking his inability to dance with an obvious parody of someone who doesn’t know. But he’s also having a good time, turned toward his buddies, singing along.”

    Well, that’s my dancing pretty much nailed.

    (Nice analysis as well.)

  1. 1 Kieron Gillen’s Workblog » PG2.3 Out On Earth Trackback on June 17, 2009 at 10:28 pm

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