Phonogram: The Singles Club

by Sarah J.

This might be the BUSTiest comic I’ve brought you yet, darlings. And yet it’s been recommended to me by oodles of boys, which just goes to show that good writing, despite lots of idiots thinking otherwise, is good writing no matter the gender of its lead characters or creators.

I wanted to go dancing earlier today, after shoving off the weight of term papers on weightier subjects, and then I read this comic, and now I REALLY want to go dancing.

I didn’t read the first Phonogram but I read (and BUST-ed) Suburban Glamour and got a super-comics-crush on Jamie McKelvie’s sugar-candy-sweet art. But The Singles Club is even more of a love letter to pop music, dancing, and being a young, sassy girl in a club with just enough confidence in yourself and your moves that, well, it’s just a little bit magic…

This issue is set in a club with just three rules: 1. No Boy Singers, 2. You Must Dance, and 3. No Magic. Anyone who’s ever been to a dance club can guess that the third rule isn’t going to last very long, especially once you’ve met Penny B., a ‘phonomancer’ (read it and it’ll make sense) with super-sweet hair (that’s her on the cover above) and a bubbly smile and a love for dancing that comes through even in still images–no hipster shuffle for her, but all-out rock that doesn’t care what the uber-cool DJs think of her.

Writer Kieron Gillen and artist McKelvie have taken the single-issue comic format perfected by Local and added another twist–B-sides! Yes, each issue comes with a full story, plus backmatter (which includes an essay from Gillen and a section on the music mentioned in the issue) and two additional short-short stories, illustrated by guest artists. Single-issue comics are already sort of like singles, arranged together at the end into a mixtape, and this just takes the conceit to its logical conclusion.

Named after a Pipettes song and name-checking everything from Nick Cave to the Long Blondes to Sufjan Stevens to Take That, Phonogram could lose you in its musical knowledge. But Gillen isn’t the too-cool DJ, he’s that friend who wants to play you the new single he got because he loves it and wants you to love it too.

BUST readers will relate to the first B-side especially, wherein an ‘Emosogynist’ is confronted over his love for songs about girls dying, with guest art by Laurenn McCubbin. You’ll probably also love the DJ’s crack about ‘playing music for actual human beings instead of haircuts’–I did.

That’s the best thing about Phonogram–it manages to capture all the sparkle and fabulousness of pop music while winking at the pretentiousness that often comes along with hip clubs. It bottles the feeling of your first (or most recent) crush and the glow of the dancefloor and that power you get when you’re just buzzed enough to let go and you know everyone’s watching you. Whether you like comics or not, I promise you’ll love it. You want this comic. Really.

(Image Comics, at your local comic shop.)

Sarah J .

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Founded in 1993, BUST is the inclusive feminist lifestyle trailblazer offering a unique mix of humor, female-focused entertainment, uncensored personal stories, and candid reporting that tells the truth about women’s lives.

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