This graphic novel was published last year but I only got around to buying a copy last weekend at the London con, directly from the author Rachael Smith. In fact it was the only thing I bought that weekend and it's a purchase I'm glad I made.
House Party tells the story of three ex-university students who share a house; the likable Michelle and her boyfriend Neil, and their friend Siobhan. Feeling somewhat lost and frustrated with life in the 'real world', the friends are feeling nostalgic for their heady days of uni, so Neil suggests they throw a big house party to recapture the fun times.
Of course, trying to recapture the past doesn't always work out as expected and there are consequences that the characters have to deal with.
Although Rachael Smith has been creating comics for a while this is her first graphic novel and it's an impressive debut. The story is immediately engaging and moves along at a brisk pace. Rachael's art style is modern and distinctive and displays a solid understanding of sequential techniques. She also has a good ear for dialogue, which helps to make the characters feel real and alive.
I'm a firm believer that if comics are going to survive in the UK it's going to be through graphic novels like this; ones that have a wider appeal than 'traditional comics' and which resonate with the public not just with comic fans. House Party reminded me of the sort of self-contained Play for Today that television used to do so well. It's a fine example of the modern British comic book and if you're open to character-driven stories rather than just slapstick, sci-fi, or superheroes then this is for you.
House Party is published by Great Beast Comics and you can buy copies directly from Rachael Smith's online shop here: