The Hoards of Surrey
Writer – Dave Wimblett, Artist – Rory Donald, Letterer – Ken Reynolds, Published by Covert Comics
The American teenager is extraordinarily well recorded in popular culture. Since the first teenager pulled on their bobby socks and letter jacket and cranked up the Buddy Holly tunes we have followed their development in books, movies, TV and yes comics. So powerful is this imagery that we can almost mistake it as being universal. Yet the British teenager faces different rites of passage that are less American Graffiti and more Grange Hill.
The Hoards of Surrey gives us one of the best depictions of the British teenager that I have seen in comics for some time. I should say of the teenage boy in fact, who is to be found in a group of his peers…other teenage boys. The opinions and judgement of this group is more important than almost anything else. Whoever has the loudest voice and the biggest swagger is the one the rest will seek to emulate in a kind of hormonal race to the bottom.
When small town teenage dirtbag Michael is dragged on an educational trip to the Museum by his Mum he reacts as you would imagine, with sullen indifference and a dedicated gaze at his phone. But when he looks at possibly the most boring book in the museum he discovers something that sets him and his friends on a treasure hunt and the promise of whatever riches eBay will offer.
The juxtaposition of mysterious lost artefacts and gauche teenagers works really well to create an In-Betweeners meets Indiana Jones vibe. The boys never let up with the laddish snark, you can practically smell the Lynx Africa wafting from the page. There are no girls in their group. This is also realistic.
Rory Donald brings a lot of personality to each of the kids who make up the intrepid group. This is used to good effect in the scene where they are gaming online, each in their own rooms, lit by their monitor displays. Street and countryside scenes are rendered with an attention to detail that helps to root the action in Surrey and give the sense of place that is central to the book.
Ken Reynolds is the letterer on this issue and lives up to the challenge of finding a way to depict Michaels hilarious spoken interactions with the AI on his phone.
The Hoards of Surrey leaves the reader with a twist and it looks like future issues will see the boys facing greater perils than whether they will get served in the pub. The impact on their boring, but safe and provincial, teenage lives will be interesting to see.
You can read The Hoards of Surrey now on Comichaus.
Dave Wimblett is on Twitter