Sugar Glider is the tale of a young super hero compelled to take to the streets of her home town in order to combat the plans of a group of anti capitalists, intent on bringing disorder and chaos. Donning a suit and cowl she battles the forces of evil while avoiding the attentions of the local law enforcement, as well as a mysterious agency…
A premise that sounds not unfamiliar in the world of super hero comic books, but Sugar Glider feels anything but normal. It’s a small press offering from writer Daniel Clifford and artist Gary Bainbridge, and is unrelentingly and unapologetically rooted in the area from which they hail, the English north east or more specifically Newcastle. Spider-man may have New York and its environs as his playground, but the world of Sugar Glider is, for the British reader at least, a more familiar and slightly less exotic surrounding. Titular heroin, Sugar Glider or as she’s known during the daylight hours, Suzie, finds herself pulled into a violent world of anarchists who are prepared to go a step to far to push their chaotic aims. After an encounter in the last issue that left her battered and bruised she takes once more to the streets in issue 2, confronting a shadowy and enigmatic character while trying to evade the law, whilst at the same time, back at home trying to keep her family fears at bay.
Although the story of Sugar Glider is presented as a superhero tale, it is at its heart a story about being young, and coming to terms with self and identity. Suzie is a disaffected teen. Her way of taking control of her life and the world she sees around her is to don her superhero guise and dispense vigilante justice. Her efforts may not always end well for her but she’s a more credible and serious teen hero than Kick Ass, to which this book could be fairly compared, and certainly Suzie is no where near the looser Dave Lizewski is. Frankly Sugar Glider contains a damn sight more heart than Mark Millar’s much lauded story.
Sugar Glider itself however is not the only book published in this universe and when reading it’s companion book, Sugar Glider Stories, it becomes more than clear that it’s the human tales behind the action that are the most important and provide the most compelling element of this well realised world. The characters are well rounded individuals and are very well realised, and scripted.
This is the second of a three book arc, and along with the companion books provides a well rounded mini universe which has a strong and clear identity. That identity is unapologetically British, in fact it’s unapologetically couched in the North East of England and that is refreshing to read.
It’s an ambitious project for a small press creator to pull off and it sets very high standards for itself. The writing is considered and is complimented well by solid art, both creators clearly on the same wavelength. It possesses a frenetic quality to it which helps speed the story along and also speaks volumes of the enthusiasm that its creative team bring to it. It reflects the quality that’s so appealing to the UK indie book scene, the ever increasing trait that exists in the scene at the moment, that of ever more ambitious projects and stories that are unafraid to offer an alternative to the main comic book industry’s offerings. It doesn’t limit itself to a bedroom fan project, it tries to raise itself above to stand on its own merits, and feels more fully realised than many worlds contained within more polished professional offerings.
The first issue is available now along with Sugar Glider Stories at: http://cottageindustrycomics.bigcartel.com, or Orbital comics inLondon or Travelling Man inLeeds. Issue 2 will be available soon, and can be pre ordered from the same address. Of course if you go to Thought Bubble inLeeds you can by the book from the creators in person. If you enjoy small press and indie books then this is a must read book, it’s full of action, and at its heart has a very upbeat and positive message about the travails of being young in a modern England.