Tuesday, 30 May 2017

Scotland Yardie by Bobby Joseph; illus Joseph Samuels

Reviewer: Catriona Troth

What We Thought:

Graphic novels aren’t usually my thing, but when I read that it was “the first UK, Black, urban graphic novel that takes on institutionalised racism, police brutality, Brexit and the gentrification of London through the lens of satire,” I couldn’t resist.

Scotland Yardie is a spliff-smoking, gun-toting Jamaican police officer parachuted into Brixton cop shop as part of the latest drive against institutionalised racism. He is partnered with PC Ackee-Saltfish, a home-grown black police officer determined to follow all the rules and be better than all the rest.

Together they must combat racism, corrupt police officers and a dangerous new drug taking over Brixton's streets.

Scotland Yardie plays on tropes that have been the mainstay of cop buddy films and TV shows from Lethal Weapon to Due South. But Joseph turns them on its head, makes fun of their conventions and pushes them to their most illogical extreme in order to satirise racism, ham-fisted anti-racism and modern British policing.

The delight of the graphic novel lies in a large measure in the illustrations by Joseph Samuels. The often quite crowded background images are packed with pop-culture references – such as the school gates where the teachers on show range from Jack Whitehall from Bad Education to Snape from Harry Potter. Or the taxi driver who is straight out of Taxi Driver.

The main pop-culture crossover in Scotland Yardie, however, is with Breaking Bad. I don’t want to give too much away, but if you are a fan of the show (especially a British fan), you will love the spin Joseph has put on it.

Scotland Yardie may be a revival of a comic originally created for Skank magazine in the 1990s, but it is bang up-to-date. It brings in Boris Johnson, Brexit - even Broadchurch.

Outrageous, irreverent and needle sharp.

You’ll Enjoy This If You Loved: East of Acre Lane by Alex Wheatle, Breaking Bad, 2000AD

Avoid If You Dislike: Politics in your graphic novels

Perfect Accompaniment: Fried Chicken

Genre: Graphic Novel

Available on Amazon

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