National Post: Collier & Lifestyles of the not-so-famous

“Lifestyles of the not-so-famous” / The National Post / Amy Willard Cross / March 29, 2003

Anyone who comes into contact with David Collier could end up in one of his comics. Like the local librarian, for whom Collier wrote a kind of ode, published in the literary magazine Descant. Or the old pal who DJed a bit before before making alcohol his career: He inspired the comic Dennis Cote was Bad & Good. Collier's latest is a comic about a punk rocker named Brat X, and it recounts the time Collier and he spent on Toronto's boho scene in the 1980s.

Brat X is a comics homage to an English kid whose real name was something like Bradley Sandforth, and who died before his band, Rent Boys, even made a second record. The 24-page book tells a not-so linear story of Brat's life: his being kennelled at boarding school; his family's tradition of military service; his bleak outlook on a Cold War future; his work on zines, comics and music; and his friendship and mentoring of Collier. To this Collier adds period details such as the Ford Gremlin; erudite asides comparing his job pushing an ice-cream cart to the task of Sisyphus; historical forays -- in one strip, the scholar Sir John Plumb compares the emasculated Empire of America to 3rd-century Rome; and how Benjamin Franklin encouraged his workers to have more than beer for lunch.

The intricately drawn strips are almost hyperlinked, flitting wildly from observation to anecdote to flashback. An autodidact, Collier has a promiscuous curiosity; he's a hyperactive fact collector who likes to share. His mind may travel all over the place, but following its manic path is part of the fun.

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