Galavant finished last week. Kayla Hillier’s diary comic about her travels in the UK last year has been an important fixture on my RSS feed for a while now, and I’ve got an investment in it a bunch of people might share: I think it’s going to be one of the books that defines how ‘my generation’ of British comic creators look back on the last couple of years.
The comic itself is a day-by-day account of Kayla’s time in London and Manchester. Lots of it tilts around the tourism and the exploration, before evolving into a story about how she settles into her relationship with Adam, a man once the hero of his own autobiocomic.
Formally it’s locked in a ‘show-and-tell’ pattern; largely her panels are made up of tableaux bordered by explanation and annotation. Arguably it’s not really a comic; there’s no completion between panels, no passage of time, just representations of things that she’s experienced. But anyone who argues that needs a shove and probably a pint, and none of that’s really a factor in why I think some of us will think of Galavant as important.
There are a mob of us, united by tastes and shared publications, that form a pretty vocal voice in the comics community. We’re all young, many of us a bit confused by what we’re supposed to be doing. We have trouble knowing what to do with comics, especially in the face of a fragile publishing industry that doesn’t stay in any one place long enough to master.
We’re scattered throughout the country. We’re anything from 19 to 32, and probably older or younger than both of those figures. We’re brought together in the pages of Paper Science and Solipsistic Pop. We’re all improving at an unbelievable rate. We’re a network of sofas and shared experiences.
And Galavant shows we pass an important test. These splintered communities are often at their weakest through an outsider’s eyes. Newcomers show up the cracks, the fidgety spaces where we think there’s something… but there isn’t.
In Galavant Kayla experiences everything from our our tiniest follies to our most ambitious plots. And while her time here isn’t always easy there’s this impression throughout that she’s finding some kind of home between the cities and the conventions.
And I think those of us who lived that will be showing it off in the same way our parents showed us photo albums. That’s a huge thing, and something I’m honoured that Kayla chose to capture.