Art by Mike Hawthorne, James Feist, Liam Byrne, Owen Watts, Noah Rodenbeek
Available from http://www.professorelemental.com • £5
I’ve been a fan of Professor Elemental for a while now. A British rapper who has not only pioneered steampunk rap but the splendidly titled sub-genre “chap hop”, the Professor loves tea, a good dirigible, village fetes and of course, science. His hates include boredom, coffee and Mr B the Gentlemen Rhymer, his arch-nemesis. Along with the nerdcore movement created by MC Frontalot, Chap Hop in general, and the Professor in particular, this is the most interesting thing to happen to hip hop in years. It’s funny, intelligent, self-deprecating and in the case of the Professor, perfectly suited to being adapted as a comic. Which, I’m delighted to say it has been.
Lurking behind the fantastic art deco-style cover by Mike Hawthorne, the first story here is a perfect starting point with the Professor not only discovering his intrepid future butler Geoffrey but also saving him from a life of having to live with orangutans with no sense of personal hygiene. It’s just not British and Geoffrey, it turns out, is (in spirit if not in burly, weirdly orange-furred body). The art, by Liam Byrne aka Ghostpockets is frantic, flamboyant and perfectly suited to the Professor’s style. Geoffrey’s even interviewed after the story, proving himself as unflappable and reliable a man-servant as Alfred Pennyworth. Just with more tea than crime fighting and an occasional yearnings for bananas…
“Every Rose Has Thorns”, the second story, has art by James Feist, and his combination of realistic style and steampunk dementia is again a perfect fit for the Professor. This story sees him yearning for the heart of the glorious Sadie Bell and, being the Professor, going about wooing her in the most obscure way possible. Because clearly, if the love of your life is being wooed (they do a lot of wooing) by the mightily-facial haired Mr Belmont (Mr B! The bounder! He’s invaded the Professor’s comic!), surely the only course of action is to build an arboretum stocked with every flower on the planet? All you need is an airship, a butler and a relentless, never ending love for tea and her hand will surely be yours! As, it turns out, will be several carnivorous plants…
The mighty Geoffrey gets a solo story next, focussing on his love of bananas and those moments where he occasionally lets himself realise he’s the sanest primate in the room. It’s a silent piece, one page and gently funny. It’s also the curtain raiser for the epic action of “The Quest For The Golden Frog”. A comic adaptation of one of the Professor’s songs, with great art by Owen Watts and letters by David Metcalfe-Carr. Followed by a fantastic page of gag Victorian adverts by Noah Rodenbeek, it brings the book to a close exactly where it needs to be; cackling maniacally and surrounded by barely functional, probably dangerous but utterly beautiful steampunk machinery.
Professor Elemental Issue 1 is a flamboyant piece of steampunk that’s pretty much a must-have for fans. Witty, mildly crazed and utterly enthusiastic, this is the Professor in comic form. Geoffrey! Fetch our Comic Reading Trousers!
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