In The Village # 13
(UK Prisoner Appreciation Society Magazine) January 1997
Roger Langley examines the latest Prisoner-style offering, this time in comic form. The self-published comics of former Six of One member Gary Spencer Millidge (now back in the society) is gaining interest on both sides of the Atlantic. The location for the inked action is a curious place called
Strange: something unusual or with which one is not familiar
Haven: a safe place or stopping-off point
The meanings of the two parts of the comic title are in opposition. If a traveller finds himself in an unknown hamlet, from which there appears to be no way out, the setting would hardly be regarded by him as a haven. This is the dilemma and the experience of the main character of the story, Alex. On a normal day Alex finds himself in a beautiful, er, village. He is not sure how he arrived there or how to leave.
The folk of Strangehaven are an odd bunch. The drawn panels also frequently feature some unexplained object or else transport us to some other tribal community. Before long, once the first few issues have been read, the reader is as disorientated as the lone male visitor of the plot. Echoes of Twin Peaks are there, as well as a passing resemblance to the plight of Number 6 in The Prisoner (even one of the cottages is called Number Six). However, lest it be thought that this is a lightweight comic adaptation of some familiar themes, it should be noted that Strangehaven is very much for lovers of the weird and out-of-the-ordinary situations.
Some years back, the treasure hunt book Masquerade had half the country following up clues and digging up fields hoping to find a golden jewel-encrusted hare. Strangehaven has the same approximate feel, making the reader want to know where these characters are to be found and where is the village which must have been the model for Strangehaven. Of course, the answers can all be found in Gary's head, but he ain't telling! By the way, the comic is marked 'For Mature readers' and is probably aimed at a market upward of mid-teens.
Now, already at issue 5, Strangehaven has lured the reader into its eponymous small hamlet. And, like the lead character, the reader is not going to be allowed to leave. Another conundrum is the matter of over how many issues Gary will allow the plot to develop until it, if ever, concludes. As for the illustrations, the artwork is impressive and it is unusual for simple line drawing in black ink on white paper to have so much depth and atmosphere to it. As a bonus, issue 6 - due February 1997 - promises a feature on Fixture of One. Gary is to be applauded for taking such commercial risks with drawing his own comics, selling them through established and independent outlets as well as bearing the financial risks if his readership wanes. Having said that, he has been able to boast the necessity for a number of reprints so far and therefore interested parties are advised to start making the journey to Strangehaven while the published material is still available.
A subscription direct to Gary Spencer Millidge's publication address costs £12 for 6 issues. Send cheques payable to Abiogenesis Press and, if you are wanting back issues, stipulate that you want the first 5 issues and issue 6 in February. Individual copies are available for £2.20 each. Send a stamped, addressed, envelope for details to: Abiogenesis Press, PO Box 448, Southend-on-Sea, Essex SS1 2FN.
©1997 Six of One/Roger Langley
If you've read any notable pieces concerning Strangehaven that may have escaped our attention and does not appear here, we'd like to hear about them! E-mail us at firstname.lastname@example.org
All text and images (c) copyright Gary Spencer Millidge/Abiogenesis Press All rights reserved.