Preview: Sugar Jones Brings The Glitz And The Glamour In ‘The Best of Sugar Jones’

by Richard Bruton

The Best of Sugar Jones is a perfect example of the depth and breadth of Brit comics here – a cutting expose of toxic celeb culture way before that became a thing, all with some stunning artwork that sits between pin-up and pop-art.

Time to celebrate the best of Brit Comics with the worst of celebs in The Best of Sugar Jones.

Sugar Jones was a strip that ran in the pages of Pink, a long forgotten magazine/comics hybrid that existed from 1973-1980. And although Pat Mills and Rafael Busom Clua’s creation may have been written and drawn in the ’70s, it’s the perfect strip for our modern world, with its spoiled and pampered celeb pretending to the world that she’s just as charming and friendly off-screen as she is when they see her on her late-night variety show.

Hmmm, TV star putting on an act of being the nicest person in the world for the plebs and, in fact, being a manipulative, nasty, mean-spirited harridan – I can’t think of anyone that could ever apply to in celebrity circles, could you?

It’s a scathing attack on celebrity, seen through the eyes of Sugar’s poor, put-upon, overworked, and undervalued assistant, Susie – the only one who knows the truth about Sugar, whose 20-something look and warm personality is really a mask for the nasty 40-year old she really is.

So, we open with Sugar and her entourage tracking down ‘Tarzo’ to bring back to the UK to make a fortune from exploiting. Then it’s time to take down a US soul singer in the UK who dares to have the same name as our nasty piece of work. There’s nods to Planet of the Apes, the Milk Tray man, TV talent shows, all with Sugar putting on her act, a truly nasty piece of work.

Every time it’s Sugar scheming and plotting, shamelessly manipulating anyone and anything to her advantage. And the fun is to see just how low she’ll sink and just how things will work out to bite her on the ass, usually thanks to Susie righting a few of her boss’s wrongs.

Not only does it read as a venomous take-down of celebs, it’s also a classic example of the incredible talents that were working in comics, particularly in girls’ comics in the ’70s here in Britain.

Obviously, Pat Mills’ work in Brit comics is legendary, with his input seemingly mandatory on each and every new Brit comic that came out during the ’70s.

But I think it’s Rafael Busom Clua’s art that’s going to be attracting the most attention for this best of Sugar Jones. The style mixes that classic high fashion look with something that’s just veering towards cheesecake at times, but never going too far.

It’s all beautifully posed, all wonderfully observed, all as glamourous and fabulous as it can possibly be. And it’s also got a sense of pop-art about it, with those beautiful people with their incredibly with-it threads and impossibly sculpted cheek bones, all sinuously lounging across the pages.

Sugar Jones – by Pat Mills and Rafael Busom Clua. Published by The Treasury of British Comics on 25th November 2020.

Originally serialised in Pink from October 1974 to May 1977.

Now, enough talk of it being so good – time for a preview of just what makes it work so well!

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