52 pages, magazine size, by Jason Dean, 5 St. Dials Road, Old Cwmbran, Gwent NP44 3AN, UK +++ deanjason143(at)aol.com
Knowing the kind of dark and complex work Jason produces (at his best), the cover of his new issue really fucked with me. I stared for a long time at that drawing, trying to find some menacing element. There's none. Later, having finished reading the whole book, I found the answer in the final story. It's a happy family picnic drawn like a children's comic, with puzzles and colouring-in activities along the way. Then it gets real nasty. You will never see that cover the same way again.
Let's get the art out of the way first before moving on to the stories, because it's the first thing you notice. Jason's art is technically shit fucking hot. To put so much time into each page, the content has gotta be up to it, and in No Hope #5 it definitely is. And it's a helluva ride, with one-page strips devoted to death-dealing fantasies ('I Wish I Had A Kalashnikov') and fashion ('The Aborted Human Fetus'), and longer strips re-imagining death and funerals ('The Funeral'); a psychotic breakdown of a stick figure ('The Disturbing Dream Of A Depressed Overworked Designer Of Pictorial Symbols'); and a terrific adaption of a story from the book Stalkers by Jean Ritchie [Harper Collins, 1994] ('Every Minute Of The Day').
Then there's the final story, 'Let's Have A Picnic', which the cover is a snapshot of, before things take a turn for the ugly, shall we say.
This is absolutely essential for those of you, who know who you are.