Best Of British: Paul Rainey Takes A ‘Journey Into Indignity’

by Richard Bruton

Mainly humorous, often exciting, always angry … some of this comic is filth. Much of it is absolute filth!

Welcome to Paul Rainey‘s Journey Into Indignity, a perfect intro to the world of the most recent winner of the Observer/Jonathan Cape/Comica Graphic Story Prize.

Paul Rainey has been working at the coal seams of Brit Comics for many, many years and I first read his work back in the 90s with Memory Man. Since then, he’s published various comics, delivered a truly great and tragically overlooked graphic novel, There’s No Time Like The Present, and done an awful lot of very funny comic strips and cartoons.

Thankfully, after the longest time, he’s getting something of his day in the sun after winning the Observer/Cape/Comica Graphic Short Story Prize this year with Similar To But Not, where Rainey meets Madonna, sort of.

All of which makes this a perfect time for this compilation of some of his strips from the last few years. All of which have that same wonderful sense of the absurdity and off-kilter brilliance that won him the OCCGSS Prize (and seriously, it really is about time that they got a snappier name for that.)

Inside, as Rainey says, you’ll find strips that are “Mainly humorous, often exciting, always angry,” and it all comes with the author’s warning, “Some of this comic is filth. Much of it is absolute filth!”

Okay, I’ll definitely go with the humorous. In fact, I’d go as far as out and out funny. But as far as the filth, you’ll get a few rude words here and there and there’s always the daytime onanism of Sexaholic Panda but that’s less of the filth and more of the funny…

What it does have is 28 pages of very Paul Rainey comics. By which I mean a series of very funny, very well-done comics and strips from a cartoonist who always comes up with a skewed take on his subjects.

And there’s a wonderfully wide range of subjects in here, with everything from the lost episode of Star Trek: The Next Generation when Picard gets an extra penis (what’s that, you missed that one? No matter, it’s here and just as wonderfully daft as you’d expect) to the ongoing adventures to be found in Coronation Street 3000.

Journey Into Indignity also includes three of his previous OCCGSSP entries. Three shorts that have all the Rainey-isms that make his work genuinely fascinating and funny in equal parts.

‘The Angel Of Death’ features the test subject for a long-life serum that’s worked all too well who appears at the death beds of his descendants, ‘I’m Listening’ gives us a slice of life with all the communication problems a couple really need to work on and finally, in ‘Reboot’, we have the tale of a middle-aged comic fan’s desperate pitch to relaunch a long-running superhero comic-book. Which is just as sad as it sounds.

Rainey’s subjects might be wide-ranging, but the result for me is always the same – something quirky, off-beat, and consistently funny observations of the world, no matter how fantastical.

Here in Journey Into Indignity, there’s page after page, strip after strip of Rainey’s very funny work, giving you a smile and a giggle for a few minutes – and that’s something we can all do with in these times.

Now, to leave you with my personal favourite, Warehouse Operatives, where someone who absolutely isn’t Oliver Hardy trains someone who just as absolutely isn’t Stan Laurel in dealing with a box. This is peak Rainey in so many ways.

Yes, Paul Rainey’s work is well worth your time, a slice of weird humour that raises a chuckle with the absurdity of it all.

Journey Into Indignity by Paul Rainey – available from Rainey’s shop

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