There’s a certain charm to homemade comics, but sometimes those photocopied and saddle bound A5 booklets lose out to more professionally made books. More’s the pity, as I only first formally got introduced to Damien Flood’s Knocked Up Nikki: Tales From Bray over the Arcadecon weekend, with plenty of thanks(!) to Celtic Clan creator Nigel Flood, who was selling copies of the comic at the convention. Despite the low budget binding, inside its covers contains perhaps one of the most weirdest Irish comics out there.
Knocked Up Nikki is the story of Nikki, a down and out pregnant young woman who lives in a small apartment block called The Bray Head, except for the fact that her womb is home to a two-foot-tall flying version of Jesus (his conception is still a mystery to Nikki, who still remains pregnant despite this), who sometimes zips away to fight giant monsters of the week threatening to destroy the town of Bray. Joining her are the Pre-Cogs, who are prophetic conjoined twins that warn Jesus about danger, the animal suit wearing Huggy Bear, Scagging the talking cat, and a variety of characters who philosophise about strange goings on in their local pub, the Harbour Bar.
So far there seems to be only three issues of Knocked Up Nikki in existence, but even with the scarcity of the comics, they leave a rare huge impact. The first introduces us to Nikki, Jesus and their friends, as Jesus flies off to save Bray town hall from a giant naga. And immediately afterwards, they all go on a drinking binge through the town. This founds the basis for everyone’s laid back responses to the bizarre goings on in Bray.
The second issue opens with the corrupt Mayor of Bray dumping cocaine into the sea while avoiding the coast guard. The dumped cocaine in turn affects the local sea life, as a giant spider crab is found in the sea the next day, slowly turning bigger and more aggressive. No surprise as it later ruins our gangs day at the funfair when it grows to a massive size and captures Jesus, leaving Nikki and Huggy to toss bottles of cider at the crab until it falls over drunk.
Third issue sees the crew happily drinking in Nikki’s living room, until the Pre-Cogs suddenly grow a third eye each with an awakened bloodlust, bending the fabric of three dimensional space in the living room and beaming various inhabitants from other universes into Bray. Nikki is temporarily transformed into a Goth, as she and Huggy make conversation with multi-eyed tentacled monsters and Peter Potter, who seems to wear a suit made entirely of flower pots. They take them all down to the pub for a drink and chinwag, regardless.
One can probably see why I’d love to see a collection of these, or a fourth issue at least. The dialogue is suitably earthy and laconic as all the characters live on the bottom rung of society (but trying to make the best of it). Nikki doesn’t give a damn, Jesus berates her for it, Huggy is somewhat neurotic, and even the Pre-Cogs have an awesome moment of their own.
Aside from the rough and ready presentation, Flood has graced his comics with some wonderful art. The bleak inky style gives a suitable griminess to the characters and Bray itself, but on closer inspection each character is beautifully rendered in Flood’s unique style. Issue one has some glorious and delicate character studies at the back pages, and the cover art of each issue suggests a strong discipline with painting on canvas. Flood had also advertised his online gallery, but the domain seems to have sadly expired since (issue one was printed in 2007).
Would Knocked Up Nikki look better as a revamped collected edition? Pretty oh-so-goddamn-much: combining the wonderful pencil style of those character studies and getting a nicer binding for Flood’s comics would do this bizarre series a world of good, and practically ready to dive back into our current industry again. Pick it up very soon.