Phonogram: Rue Britannia

You open this comic book, and suddenly you’re getting people talking about bands you’ve never even heard of. It could be alienating, but although they’re talking about specific bands, the ideas they are expressing are universal. You don’t have to worry about the specifics and can roll with what’s in the story. In fact, everything that’s actually important in Phonogram can be deduced from the context in which it’s used.

A long search for himself, for the meaning of his existence, in which Kieron Gillen tells us the answer to life is music. Phonogram explores the idea that music truly is magic. “‘Phonogram is based on people who realise that metaphor is actually the true foundation of the universe, and so actively manipulate it to achieve their desires”, declares the comics writer publically.

This book contains a lot of passion for Britpop but it’s more of a struggle about the memories of the music rather than an expression of Gillen’s love for it. It analyses the music and the movement with a passion only available to those who really loved it. It also takes the whole thing apart with the venom of those who’ve come out to the other side. The motif of music as a spiritual or magical force is something musicians return to time and time again.

David Kohl is a mage who uses the medium of Britpop music to interpret his magic. He has been tricked by The Goddess into visiting one of her temples. While in the temple, she curses him for the misuse of his powers and then sends him to investigate what is happening to one of her aspects. The aspect in question is Britannia, Goddess of Britpop, who baptised Kohl, was the original source of his abilities and is at least ten years dead. While investigating, he discovers the ghost of a girl who used to have a crush on him. The next day he wakes up to find that his memories have altered.

We realize that our world can begin to change by simply changing our perceptions.

In the end, Phongram is about non-literal ways of seeing the world, alternative perspectives, and so forth.

Now we can turn to the editorial details: the comic book is written by Kieron Gillien and drawn by James McKelvie. It is published by Image Comics.

A run of at least two mini-series is planned. The first volume was a six issue run, collected under the title “Rue Britannia”. In keeping with the Britpop theme, the six individual issues had cover art based on album artwork from that era.The first volume began in August 2006.

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