Review by Win Wiacek
There’s a 1944 Powell & Pressburger film called A Canterbury Tale, where a group of disparate but loosely associated characters weave in and out of each other’s lives for a defined period, gradually proceeding towards a shared denouement. It’s about far more than that and is really good. You should see it. Biscuits Assorted is a bit like that, but also completely different. You should read it. It’s really, Really good.
Artist, teacher, Small Press artisan and author Jenny Robins is clearly a keen observer and gifted raconteur deftly attuned to nuance and ambiance and quite possibly hopelessly in love with London. Her award-winning debut graphic novel is a paean to modern living in the city, recounted through overlapping snapshots of many women’s lives in the months of June, July and August of a recent year. Don’t worry about which one.
If you need the metaphor explained, there are different varieties and, occasionally, they don’t do what it says on the tin!
Seriously though, here in captivating monochrome linework are a plethora of distinct and well-round individuals of differing ages and backgrounds working, playing, living, dying, risking, winning, failing and constantly interacting with each other to a greater or lesser extent. They’re all united by place, circles of friends, shared acquaintances and enjoying – for once – full access to their own unexpurgated voices.
Strangers or intimates, life-long or mayfly-momentary, this addictively engaging collection of incidents and characters all share locations and similar pressures as they go about their lives, but the way in which they all impact upon each other is truly mesmerising. You may have met these very women and girls all your life, except now you’ll know what they’re like and what they’ve been thinking all this time. It’s outrageously funny and terrifyingly elucidating, rude in all the right ways and places while able to break your heart and jangle the nerves with a turn of a page.
Biscuits Assorted is a brilliant and revelatory picaresque voyage that is impossible to put down and certain to become a classic of graphic literature. It’s also the most fun you can have with your brain fully engaged.