The City of Abacus


Written by Caroline Doyle
03 Monday 03rd May 2010

VV Brown, the vintage-coiffed retro-pop chanteuse has collaborated with film-maker and illustrator Dave Allain on a series of comic books released next week under the title The City of Abacus.

With a moody noir style, the monochrome landscape of The City of Abacus is strewn with shadows and darkness. We are introduced to a world reminiscent of our own and yet exaggerated and distorted. Here Orwellian announcements placate the public and brutish reptilian law enforcers are on constant surveillance. Any kind of independent thought or creativity is stifled and musical instruments have become useless relics.
Despite the sci-fi surroundings - the distant future, the brain washing computers and the thinly veiled warning about our own cctv culture - don’t be fooled, this is a recognisable adventure story, though none the worse for it.
This is the tale of a plucky orphan who’s always been a bit ‘different’. Enter a mysterious stranger who introduces her to a new way of thinking and explains how her own father was instrumental in establishing the oppressive regime against which they now must fight. Well, it worked for George Lucas...
This shouldn’t put you off however, this is a story with proven entertainment potential , and there’s even cute beasty side-kicks to boot. The City of Abacus promises to be a ‘long twisted journey of surprise, rejection, incest, love, politics and mystery’, well, what more could you ask for?
The comic book world is one still seriously lacking in female presence and VV Brown’s status will perhaps inspire budding female artists and writers, maybe even getting the uninitiated interested in the genre. At the very least, this event might encourage the comic book aficionados to go out into the sunlight and get some seriously needed vitamin D as they realise that they’re cool again. Who am I kidding - they were always cool.


We spoke to the super-fringed comic book queen herself about the project.

Where did the idea for the The City of Abacus project come from?
Wanting to talk about life. Serious concepts through imaginative means.
You collaborated with Dave Allain on the project and the illustrations are done by Emma Price, so how much of an input did you personally have in the creative process?
A very big part. I wrote the whole story and the words in the speech bubbles. I've been heavily involved in what the characters look like and I produced the track people will hear when they read the comic. 
The main character’s hairstyle is familiar, but apart from that, the sparse futuristic setting of the comic and the darkness of tone would seem to be quite a departure from the things you have done in the past and your exuberant singing persona. Would you agree? Was this a conscious shift?
Well the public are yet to discover my personality. People can be very judgemental based upon the songs they see in the media and so this is just an opportunity for them to get to know me as an artist even more. I must say it is a slightly different play on art in comparison to my music, but ironically my music has a contradictory element that I love. Sadistic, lyrical, playful words clash with happy melodies; it’s quite silently dark. However, The City of Abacus is a project on its own. It’s a politically driven project and sometimes when you’re making mainstream music you don't have the opportunity to do this. It’s a shift but an extension of a part of me not seen. 
Have you always been a fan of comic books?
Yes. Comics are amazing.
Are there any that particularly influenced The City of Abacus or inspired you to begin the project in the first place?
Many! I really love A Jew in Communist Prague by Vittorio Giardino, Tintin in Tibet by Herge, It's a Good Life If You Don't Weaken by Seth, Kingdom Come by Mark Waid . There are so many! Strangers In Paradise: I Dream of You by Terry More and The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen by Alan Moore too!
There will be an original composition of music released with each volume of the comic book, that be composed by you?
Yes it will be. I’ve been listening to a lot of Kraftwerk for inspiration.  
Will the style of it come as a shock to your fans?
No because although it’s me  doing it, it’s really The City of Abacus project. I've always dreamed about eventually making film music, getting married and having a family so perhaps this is the start of it.
The first issue in The City of Abacus series is released on May 6, and to celebrate the launch there will be an exhibition at The Book Club in Shoreditch May 7 - May 29 2010. Go and celebrate living in a world where creativity is encouraged and the only brain washing computers are app-filled and wifi-compatible.


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