Paragon is styled on the British anthology comics of the 1970s and ‘80s. These were largely anthologies, packed with action based tales of square jawed heroes, frequently anti-authoritarian whilst being proudly patriotic.
These classic comics were filled with a blend of action, horror and comedy, frequently telling war stories, or the adventures of sporting heroes, or science fiction tales. The writing was often concise and simple, introducing characters, developing a story and wrapping things up in only a handful of pages, then ready again for the next week. Paragon isn’t parody or pastiche of this simple and fun filled storytelling – it loving recreates the style of comics from this golden era.
Getting a self-published comic off the ground is a feat in itself, but Paragon has recently published its twenty first issue, as well as following the British comics tradition of producing hardcover annuals and collected editions or the biggest strips, each one packed with work from a whole host of creative individuals.
As with most self-published comics, the quality of the work can be a bit of the mixed bag. Whilst some of the artwork which appears in the pages of Paragon might not be up to the full professional standard, a lot of the art here is of a considerably higher quality than a great many independent comics. In places, layout might be a little confusing, or the anatomy work perhaps not as good as it could be…but when, in the most recent episode, we have two characters literally smash their way through a series of panels, or when a spray of blood becomes the lettering of a sound effect, that level of originality and willingness to do something a little different is really to be applauded. There’s a range of different styles on offer, giving each piece its only distinct flavour.
Originality runs through Paragon’s veins. Whether it’s a colourful slapstick which sees classical composers Brahms and Liszt team up to solve crime, the retro sci-fi of patriotic fighter pilot Captain Bulldog, or the modern noir of demon hunters Bludd & Xandi, Paragon’s willingness to take risks makes it stand out from the crowd. With so many indie creators simply willing to follow the mainstream in the hope of impressing, it’s refreshing that talented people are willing to say “the hero of my next story will be a 19th century Hungarian composer. It’s a comedy”.
Editor Dave Candlish has openly said on the Paragon website that the future of the comic is at risk. Falling sales means that the work which so many people put in to provide a single issue might not be able to continue.
It would be a real shame to see that happen, and we would compel you to take a little look. Several issues are available for free download at the moment, as a little taster. Give it a try. Smallpress doesn’t just happen. It’s the result of passionate people working hard, often for little or no reward. Comics like Paragon, which showcase the exciting potential of new creators, deserve to be supported.
Paragon is available at lulu.com