Neil Slorance: Cartoons and Comic Art
- David Pollock
- 4 July 2017
Confident exhibition of comics, illustrations, political cartoons and more from the Glasgow comic artist
Even as Glasgow celebrates the art of Frank Quitely – a local and one of the most internationally famous artists working in the country right now – with an exhibition of his comic art at Kelvingrove, another national treasure cartoonist with a far lower profile gets a chance to show what he can do with a small display of work here, in an exhibition which ties in with Glasgow Comic Con 2017. Neil Slorance is also from Glasgow, and while his work is lighter and more cartoonish than Quitely's, the breadth of subjects and emotions it covers even across this small selection is illustrative of a deep talent.
On first glance, what really stands out is how Slorance covers many bases while deviating little from his core style; his figures are small and cute, their faces round and child-like (even the adults), and their eyes deep, expressive ovals with tear-like pupils resting at their base. Although he's been creating comics for a decade, this show begins properly with examples of his and writer/letterer Colin Bell's 'Jonbot vs Martha', a 2011 webcomic envisaged as 'Kramer vs Kramer vs Robocop'.
The early examples here are fairly simple efforts, but they establish Slorance's aesthetic as a kind of hopeful cutesiness with an encroaching air of bittersweet adult sadness. Strip pages from his Modern Slorance series of autobiographical travelogue strips and The Amateur Astronomer's Journal expand upon these themes in more confident style.
He and Bell's Dungeon Fun (2013) is where a real sense of professional quality arrives, a bright, full-colour children's strip about the fantasy adventures of heroine Fun Mudlifter which brought recognition, acclaim and a bunch of new, younger-generation fans. It opened the door for Slorance's most recognisable works yet, his (and Bell's) inventive single-page humour strips and front covers for Titan Comics' Doctor Who line – Peter Capaldi given the cute Slorance treatment is a wonderful thing – and a new career as a political cartoonist for The National and on election night for STV and BBC Scotland.
It's for this latter outlet that many readers not well-versed in the Scottish comics scene might know Slorance's work best, with his child-like, slide-loving Willie Rennie and the trio of political action figures Sturgeon, Dugdale and Davidson (the latter complete with tank) becoming viral hits. What stands out throughout isn't just the composure of his work and his punchlines, but how it speaks so effortlessly to all ages, from small children to jaded old politicos. This exhibition feels very much like the showcase of an artist just getting started, one who may find his own slot at Kelvingrove further down the line.
Neil Slorance: Cartoons and Comic Art is at the CCA, Glasgow, until Sun 2 Jul.