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9 Reviews
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Music journalism, thinly disguised as a comic book
I was ready to hate this book. I was intrigued by the first issue of the comic, but by the time I had finished the second, the Pitchfork-esque celebrations of musical superiority had reached critical mass. Something happened, though, as I got near the end of this six-issue collection. I found myself looking up the mentioned bands. I found myself actually understanding the...
Published on March 2, 2012 by Ars Legendi

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4 of 6 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Great... if you're into Britpop
I'm fairly well versed when it comes to recent music history. Especially when it comes to rock in the last 25 years. I bought the comic because I had heard a review on the series from Fresh Ink and it sounded interesting. Wow, was I wrong. It's not a bad series or anything. Britpop is kind of interesting. It's just the way the story is told. In the story, Britpop is...
Published on July 21, 2011 by Shea Morgan


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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Music journalism, thinly disguised as a comic book, March 2, 2012
This review is from: Phonogram: Rue Britannia (Paperback)
I was ready to hate this book. I was intrigued by the first issue of the comic, but by the time I had finished the second, the Pitchfork-esque celebrations of musical superiority had reached critical mass. Something happened, though, as I got near the end of this six-issue collection. I found myself looking up the mentioned bands. I found myself actually understanding the various metaphors, even though I stand firmly on the outside of the story's cultural inner circle. By the time I finished the book, I realized to my surprise that I enjoyed it despite trying really hard not to.

The story arc begins with an avatar of a musical goddess sending a phonomancer (someone who can use music as a medium for arcane practice) on a quest to find out what has happened to one of her aspects, Britannia. Feel free to ignore this setup, though, because it has precisely nothing to do with the proceedings, other than to introduce protagonist David Kohl and give an overview of the setting. The book, for all of its fantasy trappings, is actually a fierce paean to Britpop music and an introspective exploration on what it meant and still means to its fans. David's race to stop the dead goddess from being resurrected as a monster is a thinly veiled history of Britpop's rise from the foundation of 1960s British guitar rock as a response to American grunge, its relatively quick decline and fall, and the state of the genre after it started feeding on itself instead of on a cultural identity. The most interesting part of the story is the consequences David faces if he cannot find Britannia in time: the destruction of his own essence, as his memories are altered and blurred until he is lost and transformed into someone completely different. Someone, for example, who hums along with Ocean Colour Scene and doesn't mind listening to Kula Shaker. The fight to hold on to himself leads him to questions that every scene kid, no matter what the scene in question is, must eventually face. What happens when you get old, and the music you've loved so deeply and understood so intimately becomes a relic of the past? What's the next step, when you can no longer define yourself by the trappings of pop culture once it inevitably leaves you behind, or vice versa?

These parables are so thinly veiled that it's easy to get lost in the dreamlike twists and turns of the narrative, if you're not keeping an eye on the big picture. Furthermore, even though there is a handy glossary at the back for readers that aren't familiar with Britpop, there is still an excessive amount of musical preening. Obscure Britpop references are tossed recklessly around, with an indifference bordering on disdain for the comfort of anyone who may not be familiar with them. Or maybe I just felt that way, since I grew up on the other side of the pond, listening to reviled Seattle grunge instead of Pulp, Blur, Elastica, or Kenickie. I eventually realized that the story isn't about excluding anyone, though. It's simply a love letter to a musical era that passed by largely unremarked on, except for by those in the thick of it, and those who wandered in too late on the heels of "woo-hoo" and "Wonderwall." Taken solely on those merits, this is a subtle and powerful work of storytelling.

The black-and-white art is fantastic. The pulp feel is wholly appropriate, somehow, and the realistic style conveys some remarkable articulation and emotion. The reader immediately learns almost everything about David Kohl by the expression on his face in the first page of the first volume. There are a few jarring shifts between pages and a handful of awkward action panels, but they're balanced by some very expressive character art. Honestly, the covers alone almost make up for any other artistic problems.

Taken all together, this is a remarkable graphic novel. It's bound to alienate some readers who either aren't familiar with or don't have any interest in the British guitar pop of the early 1990s, since the actual story doesn't really hold up without at least a passing appreciation for it. But reading this with an open mind (and a tolerance for having your own musical tastes sneered at, just a little bit) opens up a surprising deep and heartfelt piece of music journalism in comic form.
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4 of 6 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Great... if you're into Britpop, July 21, 2011
By 
Shea Morgan (Bamberg, Germany) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Phonogram: Rue Britannia (Paperback)
I'm fairly well versed when it comes to recent music history. Especially when it comes to rock in the last 25 years. I bought the comic because I had heard a review on the series from Fresh Ink and it sounded interesting. Wow, was I wrong. It's not a bad series or anything. Britpop is kind of interesting. It's just the way the story is told. In the story, Britpop is mystical/magical. The main character is a mage of sorts and uses Britpop as a magician uses magic. If you A. don't understand british culture %100 B. aren't familiar with Britpop %100 and C. weren't looking for a fantasy book then please avoid this read. If you're way into Echobelly, live in London and fancy spells... you see what I'm saying? Not a bad book. Just not a book I'd recommend to most.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Bitter stare over Britpop revival, July 9, 2009
By 
Dalton Silva (Sao Paulo, Brazil) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Phonogram: Rue Britannia (Paperback)
Phonogram is Great. More than that. It is 4REAL!

It is a great metaphor of the about the Brit music scene, its highs and lows, and have a bitter stare over the current music scene and a supposed revival of 90's Britpop. It is a bit about growing up and leaving the weight behind, like it was that easy...

Obviously, if the reader knows the bands (what is much easier in these download days) some references are better understandable, but if you lived the Britpop heyday... man, you will get all layers of the metaphor!!

The Mr. McKelvie's art is fantastic and have great depictions of key people of the Britpop and the text is very passionate, showing that Mr. Gillen must have lived the scene.

It gets 4 stars only for the fact the covers of the mini-series are reproduced in black and white, what is lame (when you see them, you will understand)!!!
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5.0 out of 5 stars great series!, January 27, 2013
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This review is from: Phonogram: Rue Britannia (Paperback)
this one was bought as a gift so waiting to read it. but this series is awesome. Definitely worth getting.
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2 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars One of the best graphic novels I've read in a long time, August 3, 2008
By 
Handee Books, LLC (Santa Clara, CA USA) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Phonogram: Rue Britannia (Paperback)
One of the best graphic novels I've read in a long time. The premise of "Phonogram" is the idea that music really can change one's life in tangible, meaningful ways. It's a fantasy story about evil "phonomancers" (sort of dj-wizards) attempting to resurrect Britannia, the goddess of British guitar pop. The fantasy elements are fun, but the heart of the story is the idea that pop music is of the moment and that nostalgia's a dead end. The artwork is clean and fairly realistic. I liked the fact that the resolution comes about through reason and not violence. And the final page is particularly poignant.
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Unless you Love Britpop and Vertigo books, might want to pass., July 11, 2009
This review is from: Phonogram: Rue Britannia (Paperback)
I really wanted to like this, the book I imagined it would be caught my enthusiasm. Art is mostly very nice, though spare, and it does start with some good ideas, lost me almost entirely in the third chapter with a prolonged "dream" sequence, finally just alienating if you don't care about the bands(might have been more fun for me if it had been all made up bands, like in the graphic novel Tricked, or the sf book Rack and Rule.)Seemed like it wanted really bad to be a Vertigo book. If the creator return to the concept, my initial delight in the idea of the Phonomancer allows me to believe that this still has a lot of potential, and perhaps later chapters could satisfy me more.
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Wonderfully written and illustrated, February 18, 2009
By 
Lucien Desar (New York, NY USA) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Phonogram: Rue Britannia (Paperback)
This graphic novel has a very original concept. It's about a world where music is actually a form of an occult-art. Where you cast spells playing or performing music. If you lived during the punk or new wave movement in the 80's you will identify with it. If you were in college in the 90's and really into music (Brit Pop) this graphic novel is like you had written it.
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1 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Even if you're not a britpop knowitall, enjoyable, July 29, 2008
This review is from: Phonogram: Rue Britannia (Paperback)
Even though I did grow up in the nineties, I was still on the younger side of the spectrum and American so other than some of the more obvious references, I did get a little lost by some of the music references. Fortunately, there's a glossary to help you out in the back of the book for that. Even so, most references aren't all that important to the story anyway; they just create a richer experience, but the book is still fairly easy to follow regardless of your Britpop experience. The artwork was quite nice, and the character development was pretty good. There were a few times I thought it was a bit silly, but for the most part I enjoyed it, and wish there'd be a sequel--there aren't enough music related graphic novels out there, IMO.

Anyhow, the basic gist: you'll enjoy it if you like the idea of magic and music, together, executed in graphic form. You'll probably enjoy it even more and feel a little nostalgic if you get all the Britpop references.
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1 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Bitter sweet, September 26, 2007
This review is from: Phonogram: Rue Britannia (Paperback)
A sad lament, for us 90s kids
Makes you wonder, ¿how long can we hold on to nostalgia,
before it makes us disapear into anonimity?

Great overview of the BRITPOP era, and outstanding musical
references
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Phonogram: Rue Britannia
Phonogram: Rue Britannia by Kieron Gillen (Paperback - July 3, 2007)
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