Mac's Books: The Last Gang In Town

A monthly review spotlighting the best titles the UK indie press has to offer and sometimes, more than just monthly. Like now, for instance!

By Olly MacNamee.

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The Last Gang in Town (Vertigo)

Writer: Simon Oliver

Artist: Rufus Dayglo

It is very seldom I get to the comic book store on a Wednesdays, but with the Christmas holidays upon us, this week was a rare treat. Not only picking up a new bag of books, but also nabbing myself a copy of Simon Oliver and Rufus Dayglo's new Vertigo offering The Last Gang in Town. I'm so glad I did too.

Immediately evocative of a particular time in Britain's contemporary history, 1977, Dayglo's fizzing, energetic, exuberant art fills each panel with mirthful minutia of the moment and building a recognizable London at a time when, as a nation, we were finally throwing off the shackles of colonial rule and embracing youth, alternative ideologies and punk rock! The Sex Pistols were ripping through the creaky old musical establishment in the same way as the titular gang was ripping them off too. In this case, pilfering a top end guitar from a prog-rock god, Pink UFO, who as you can imagine, is none too pleased with their light-fingered larceny. And we're off on this non-stop ripper of a ride across 24 stunning pages of British infused comic goodness.

This is a fun read, but with the promise of an epic scaled art heist spanning the decades to come. We are introduced to a secretive matriarch in the not-too-distant future (2018 to be exact) that couldn't be further removed from the punk rock probates she is recruiting, having the air and graces about her that comes with a privileged upbringing. This is a very English kind of comic, and class is a very English thing. Oliver's script embraces all that was both good and bad about a Britain on the verge of collapse; a last great hurrah ahead of a bleak winter of discontent and a decade of dross under a Tory government.  Characters are introduced, sex, drugs and rock and roll play their part and the stage is set. All that is missing is the Lalo Schfrin soundtrack (which I recommend you play, as I did, while reading).

Clearly a labour of love for both Oliver (The Exterminators) and Dayglo (Tank Girl), it is almost a crime not to read it this holiday season.

That's all my recommendations for this year. So, have a happy holiday and a great New Year wherever you find yourself.

Be seeing you.

Olly MacNamee teaches English and Media, for his sins, in a school somewhere in Birmingham. Some days, even he doesn't know where it is. Follow him on twitter @ollymacnamee or read about his exploits at olly.macnamee@blogspot.co.uk. Or don't. You can also read his articles fairly frequently at www.bleedingcool.com too.