Queen of the Black Black

A selection of Megan Kelso’s early short strips, collected together for the first time

Queen of the Black Black - The Married Man

Comics are a great medium for short stories. But for all the shortcuts you get through illustration’s ability to set a scene visually, comic creators still need a supreme sense of economy and skill to make them work.

This collection of early stories from Megan Kelso shows a natural flair for the form, mixed with a self-critical determination to hone her craft, that’s helped her blossom into a master storyteller.

There are 12 stories of varying lengths spread over 160 pages. The subject matter varies too, though it’s all slice of life stuff, largely from a female perspective. Elements of autobiography appear but Kelso leans on her life only for inspiration, rather than to force a story. If a tale needs more than her own experiences can provide, there’s no problem with taking a narrative tangent to spice things up.

Queen of the Black BlackIn the introduction she suggests that she hasn’t chosen the order of these stories in any kind of chronological order of when they were written. Instead she’s sorted them into a good narrative order. I initially thought that might make it a bit scrappy, but although the style changes back and forth in places, it’s no compromise. Kelso‚Äôs work has been skilful and engaging from the beginning.

Anyone looking for a masterful example of the short story in comics would do well to give this a try. Beautifully written and well illustrated, this a wonderful portfolio of work from a creator showing a deep well of promise from the start.

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