The Complete Phonogram


Jun 08, 2017 Web Exclusive Bookmark and Share

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On one level, Phonogram is a comic for the fussiest of music fans, layered with opinions about what this kind of music means, how much that band sucks or is amazing, etc. The kinds of arguments you might hear in record shops in days gone by, back when those were a thing. And, you know, it can be kind of dreary listening to know-it-alls spout their musical opinions, hyping things you've never heard of, maybe shitting on stuff you're rather fond of.

But using these opinions and interpretations as a framework for magic? That's intriguing, even if some (okay, most) of the musical references go over your head, or you find them a little pretentious. Kieron Gillen has built a really fascinating world of phonomancersmagicians who derive their powers from music in unusual ways, each different than the other. Each phonomancer has his or her own groove, the potential to define their own personal myth through the application of magic, and finding meaning in the music they use for it.

Lest it seem too headyit's really quite a nice couple of adventures too, amid a bunch of compelling characters and intriguing interpersonal relationships between them. And the art by Jamie McKelvie is just lovely. The first part of the voluminous collection is the earliest stuff, and the art is a little more static than what follows; by the end, there's a more natural flow. It's all beautiful; this is just to say you can witness the artist's progression, which is really neat.

We suspect fans of British music from the '80s on might get the most out of thisbut even absent much knowledge or your own opinions about this music, the book is quite clever and enjoyable. (

Author rating: 7.5/10

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