Phonogram #1 - Permission Granted

Phonogram #1 hits the stands today, courtesy of Image Comics. Written by Kieron Gillen and drawn by Jamie McKelvie, the book is about magicians who deal in the magic of music. "Phonomancers," as it were. This story is title "Without Your Permission," in honor of an old Huggy Bear song, but even if the book is not asking for our permission, I think we would grant it, because this was a fun comic with nice art by McKelvie that oozes so much charisma that it makes up for some spotty points with the plot. With this much cool attitude, the plot can pick up later on.

There's an ad for Phonogram that I saw in a few other books (I don't recall off hand), which sums up the spirit of the book quite well, I think. This issue has the ad as well (which is kinda weird, but whatever), and the ad has six quick panels from characters talking about the lead of Phonomancer, David Kohl. All the descriptions are these trippy, out there ideas, like "He once ground up and snorted all my Sebadoh vinyl. It wasn't even for a spell." or "David Kohl reviewed my band so hard the drummer's legs fell off."


That's cool.

That's the cool that carries Phonogram, when the plot doesn't do much.

And the plot really doesn't do much.

We meet Kohl as he's going to a "woman-enhancing positive-role-modelling hair-clip-dyke-friendly yes-I-like-dance-music-I've-got-a-Le-Tigre album melange" club - to pick up women.

Once there, he gets caught up by a demon/spirt/goddess who owes him (we get a flashback where David does some naughty things) and the issue ends with him now on a mission.

Not the worst plot in the world, but certainly nothing to write home about. Perhaps we'll get more next issue, but for now, pretty neglible plot.

However, as said before, while the lack of plot might drop the book down - the dialogue and the attitude of the book pulls it back up to the point where it is an enjoyable read. Our introduction to David is well handled, as instantly we're drawn to him while, at the same time, acknowledging his character deficits. The same happens with the flashback, while we loathe his actions yet admire his style at the same time. It's a fascinating dichotomy, and one I don't think I've seen pulled off quite so well since Brian Wood's Pounded, where Heavy Parker had a similar pull on the audience - we hated him, but were interested in him enough to still be pulling for him. It's a tough trick to pull off, but Gillen has done so.

Pounded is a really good comparison, now that I think about it. If you liked Pounded, you should like Phonogram.

I liked both.

I would recommend you pick this book up (and thanks to Kieron Gillen for the review copy).

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