I’ve been waiting all weekend to recommend this to you, but Jamie Smart’s all-ages digital comic Moose Kid Comics hit the internet last Friday. A 30-odd page anthology of kids comics, the book features all sorts of people like Jess Bradley, Sarah McIntyre, Neill Cameron and Smart himself – it’s a who’s who of UK comic-makerers. And it’s completely free!
Kicking off with the origins of Moose Kid himself, the online comic features a series of one-page stories, in quick succession – from farting cats to ill-researched Polar Bear facts, all kinds of madness quickly starts to appear. But then as the strips continue, Moose Kid gets drawn back inside the story for a comic within the comic, and all heck starts to break loose. There’s a particularly tragic story for Mr Plops, for one thing.
It’s manic, eclectic, very very funny indeed and ABSOLUTELY FREE I TELLS YOU. The UK seems to be on a non-stop mission to bring comics to all-ages right now, with books like Corpse Talk, Dungeon Fun, Teenytinysaurs, Mo-Bot High, Halcyon & Tenderfoot, and of course The Beano. There’s too many to count, which can only be a wonderful thing. In an piece with Forbidden Planet a short while back, Smart laid out his mission statement thus:
Moose Kid Comics came about as a reaction to dwindling sales of children’s comics here in the UK, specifically, original content comics. We still have publications like The Beano and The Phoenix providing brilliant characters and stories week in and week out, but their competition is largely licensed properties – Simpsons, Spongebob, Moshi, etc.
Competing as a print comic, at the moment, is a bit out of our league. We are coming at it from an idealistic point of view, not a business one, because I think perhaps some big, initial ideas from artists are more useful at the moment than being limited by the minefield of distribution. So, we’re focussing on creating an online issue zero of our comic, also available as a free download. To offer up an entertaining read filled with wonderful, brilliant artists all using the space to develop their own characters. There’s no pay, and no price on it. We’re not doing this for profit, we’re doing this to show what CAN be done.
When that is completed, we can start looking into Kickstarter style fundraisers to produce actual printed, future, issues, and pay artists wages. As well as that, we can use issue zero to take to publishers and investors, to show the talent who could be creating great kids comics, just given the chance.
There’s a definite aesthetic in mind for Moose Kid Comics, the wild hysteria of Ren And Stimpy, mashed with the brilliantly charming Adventure Time. If we can hit a mark that high, then this comic will be the surreal, insane children’s comic that I think we’ve been missing.
Which comes across as a four-paragraph reason for everybody to be in awe of Jamie Smart, if you ask me. Moose Kid Comics also features several big surprises – the most notable being a strip called ‘Young Tank Girl’ by Alan C. Martin and Warwick Johnson-Cadwell. Yes – that’s an all-ages prequel to Martin’s original Tank Girl stories, rendered by one of the best artists in the UK.
My personal favourite story is by a personal favourite artist – Tom Paterson, whose work on Calamity James at The Beano was the comic which got me invested in comics when I was a kid. But there’s all sorts here, and I’ve barely scratched the surface. Head over right now, and get a load of all these free comics, aye?