I AM FIRE by Rachael Smith
I first came across Rachael at the MCM Expo in May, where she was selling her first full length comic, The Way We Write and volumes of her diary comic One Good Thing. It was her charming pencils and amusing expressions that caught my eye. I also cannot fail to mention her both silly and touching blog Ask Flimsy – the blue cat that drinks a worrying amount of wine but has a massive heart.
I Am Fire is Smith’s second comic which she wrote, drew and coloured in just under a year. The story is based in Leicester around a foul-mouthed and self-centred school girl called Jenny. She is serving her two weeks work experience in the crafts section of a department store when she meets pyromaniac Chris and drastic circumstances force her to take a long hard look in the mirror.
With the majority of her writing being autobiographical, it’s not surprising that Smith chose to set the story in her hometown of Leicester. For the plot she drew upon an anecdote of a panicked fire drill at her friend’s office.
The main characters are larger than life, but it is the support cast that move towards making this comic relevant. There is Jenny’s frantic mother, Mr Dingle the tin-pot dictator of the department store and the elderly Joan (who plays the stereotypical feeble woman that needs saving but also knows a lot more than she lets on). However Harriet, Dingle’s long suffering PA, is by far my favourite character. With a few lines of deadpan humour and subtle expressions the audience can immediately relate to her.
Like Smith’s other work, the same charm with the pencil can be seen in I Am Fire. The bright flat colours can feel overwhelming in places and battle with the writing, yet in the department store the highly detailed backgrounds are a delight and the hand lettering is perfect for the tone. There is a heavy influence of John Allison in both the style of the art and the phatic dialogue. You get to see just enough of these characters to want to know more about them and their histories.
The story isn’t a complex mystery and the reader doesn’t have to dig deep beneath the surface to decipher a profound message but it is a poignant snapshot of the kind of fast love illusion you fall under when you are growing up and still finding your way.
You can pre-order I AM FIRE here:
Rachael Smith is a cartoonist/illustrator based in Leicester, in the UK.
‘I Am Fire’ is her second full length comic story, following ‘The Way We Write’ which was released in 2012.
Rachael also has a diary comic called ‘One Good Thing’ and writes and draws comic strips for the Leicester Mercury.
She is very brave.
Beth Slater studied Journalism and Creative Writing at UEL and then Comic Book Art at UAL. After abandoning her life as an East-End barmaid, she is currently developing her portfolio and website. She spends weekends wearing Lycra at comic conventions. Her heroes are Jim Lee, David Attenborough and Dead-Eye Duck.