Posy Simmonds


Mrs Weber’s Omnibus

Review by Matthew Nielsen

Mrs Weber’s Omnibus is a collection of comics written by Posy Simmonds for the British newspaper The Guardian. The comics themselves were usually simply known as “Posy” in the paper, and have also been previously released as multiple other, smaller collections, but here they are all in one big omnibus. However, the collection does not include other work by Simmonds, such as Tamara Drewe and Gemma Bovery, which are separate graphic novels. The comics focus on a range of characters, interconnected either with family ties, romantic relationships, and friendships. These characters (the “Heeps,” “Webers,” and “Wrights,” along with others) interconnect and meet up with each other often. Throughout the first three quarters of the omnibus, we slowly see these characters change and grow, but only somewhat and some of the time.

The main aspect of these comics that work so well is seeing the various discussions and conversations of the time period. Being written and set in the late 1970s through to the late 1980s, the families discuss and adjust to the changes of those time periods, and how they compare to the ideals they grew up with. During the last quarter of the book, we see a lot less of the families that featuring primarily throughout the rest of the collection, and instead see more of other characters, such as a grumpy writer J. D. Crouch. Thus, as a stand-alone book, it seems to have a lack of closure, but in the context of a long-running series, it doesn’t seem so strange.

Due to this nostalgia, it might seem that these stories would mostly appeal to British people, or more specifically, British people who were in their 30s-50s during the 1980s. However, even if you don’t fit these categories, it is interesting to take a glimpse into the everyday life and concerns for this group of people. You may be surprised to find how much you can connect with them, as well as all the things you were unfamiliar with, such as various dated idioms or long lost widespread concerns.

Most of the artwork is either in black and white, or black and white plus an additional colour like red, but there are a handful of colour pages here and there. It is a very thick and sizeable book. The page size is just right for the content, but the book thickness is a tad distressing and can lead to lots of potential damage when reading, so take caution. It’s the kind of book that seems to be best read on the table at home as opposed to on the go.

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Tamara Drewe

tamara-drewe-coverReview by Matthew Nielsen

Tamara Drewe by Posy Simmonds is a story centred around a writer’s retreat in the English countryside. It starts off from the point of view of university professor Glen, and then moves on to the retreat’s de facto manager Beth. We also see things from other people’s points of view at various times throughout the story. This gives us a wonderful chance to know what everyone is thinking.

When you open the book, you’ll find a mix of panels and blocks of text. The layout is a mix between the kind of thing you’d see in a Raymond Briggs novel (such as Ethel and Ernest) and what you’d see in an illustrated children’s novel (such as The Christmas Miracle of Jonathan Toomey), but let’s be clear — this is not a children’s novel, neither in style of art nor in style of writing. It’s a mature, well thought-out, beautifully detailed tale. There are many wonderful scenes of the countryside throughout, along with very relatable expressions and faces. The faces are drawn less photo-realistic and more cartoonified, but not in a silly or jarring way.

I reckon most people who read graphic novels don’t like big blocks of text appearing, but here it works just fine. The panels show people interacting with each other, thinking to themselves, or going through various stages of their day. The blocks of text tell the story from the current POV, always first person and never third person. The text really helps us get into the minds of the characters; it’s wonderful!

Anyway, if you’re up for a story about very real, very believable people, that is also full of the beauty of life through wonderful illustrations, this is graphic novel that I’m sure you’d love.

To learn more, check out Tamara Drewe by Posy Simmonds.

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