Stick ‘Em: Should You Be Reading ‘Cindy & Biscuit’? [Fantasy Week]
With Should I Be Reading… ?, ComicsAlliance hopes to offer you a guide to some of the best original ongoing comics being published today. This week, we’re focusing on fantasy comics as part of a week of articles looking at the very best in the genre.
The woods are a dark and scary place. Anything could be out there, prowling, circling. But wherever monsters, aliens, demons, and fantastical menaces go, so go Cindy & Biscuit, wielding a tree branch and ready to chase down evil whenever it appears. Sure, nobody else has ever seen the fiends that Cindy and her stalwart canine companion regularly do battle with --- but that’s no reason to suggest that none of it ever happened!
WHAT’S IT ABOUT?
Cindy is a young girl who lives with her mum and her pet dog, Biscuit. She doesn’t do well at school, doesn’t seem to have any friends apart from Biscuit, and struggles to get along with her mum. On the surface, it looks like she’s a lonely kid, unsure how to impact the world or interact with others --- but when nobody else is watching her, she leaps out her window and races off into the woods to become the branch-wielding protector of all that is good and decent, tracking down and vanquishing the dark and fearsome monsters who plot against us.
Each story sees Cindy pair up with Biscuit to face down some of the most famous monster-types imaginable, for a fantastical adventure that... well… might not really be happening. But more on that later.
WHO’S IT BY?
Cindy & Biscuit is by Dan White, a cartoonist from the UK who is best known as a contributor to the Mindless Ones blog, as well as for his role in the cult comics podcast Silence, which has run for almost 200 episodes. His work on Cindy & Biscuit secured him a Young Person’s Comic Award nomination as part of the British Comic Awards.
He may not be the most famous person in the UK small press comics scene, but he’s arguably easily one of the most influential. Cindy & Biscuit has been one of the most praiised comics in the UK comics press for a long time now, and counts Kieron Gillen and Brandon Graham among its biggest fans.
WHAT MAKES IT SPECIAL?
Although you might worry that this series sounds similar to Luke Pearson’s Hilda or Marc Ellerby’s Chloe Noonan: Monster Hunter, White steers his tone towards a very different neck of the woods. The most powerful part of the comic is that it offers the reader two options: you can either read it straight, as a comic about a young girl who beats up monsters with her cute dog… or you can see it as something else. Tere’s a recurring suggestion that nothing you see is actually real; that Cindy’s battles with monsters are a fantasy she’s invented to help her deal with the anger and loneliness that real life have hit her with.
Each story has a subdued sense of longing to it. White’s incredible gift for human expression brings every image of Cindy to dizzying, springing life. She can take down enemies with just a tree branch, but that won’t save her from getting told off by her mum, or her teachers.
White has described the series as being about the kid in your class who gets the unfair reputation for being “smelly” or “ugly,” and is shunned for it by all the other kids. Cindy is that girl, only she’s able to leave that behind her at night and go off on incredible adventures.
Whichever way you look at it, the series offers you a real sense of childlike thrill and freedom.
WHO SHOULD READ IT?
It’s an all-ages series, although that comes with the caveat that a lot of the book can be quite unsettling. White has an edge of bleak despair in all his work, and that feeling flows into Cindy & Biscuit as well.
Whenever I’ve seen a young reader pick it up, though, they blaze through the creepy bits with absolute glee --- so perhaps only older readers will find it sinister. Younger readers are made of far sterner stuff. And there aren’t many characters with the broad appeal that Cindy has, as she wins the heart of most readers within moments of turning the first page.
WHERE CAN I READ IT?
Cindy & Biscuit has been self-published for several years, with new issues typically debuting around the time of the Thought Bubble festival in Leeds, held every November. The first few issues were collected in trade last year, and the newest tale in Cindy’s life, The Bad Girl, is available now from Dan White's online shop.