red white and blueRed White and Blue
By Bob Short

The Barman would have me squawk about “full disclosure”. Don't you get arrested for that? 

Oh, not if you're a politician? Mysterious donors suddenly appear with suitcases of cash for your defence team? What if you're a priest? Oh, you get transferred to a 'virgin' happy hunting ground?

Uh-huh. Anyway, I know Bob Short. He knows me. I know where he lives - and if you own either of these books, you know where he lives, too.

Man on the edge.

Okay, so this is the second part in a series. Do you need to own part one? 

Well, strictly speaking, no. However, to fully grasp what's going on, yes, you do. Allow me to recap, just slightly.

So, we have a flash comic book, with artwork which is deliberately awkward and muckily-presented (in best punk d-i-y style). Never mind the photoshops, Bob works with what looks like printouts from the internet, white-out, textas and possibly water-colour. 

There is a plot, but it's muddied (or clarified, perhaps) by a multitude of composite characters purposely designed to keep us away from the plot as such, so as to focus on Bob's main drag, which is social commentary.

C'mon, the man's one of the original punks. There's a reason he was a punk, and it wasn't fashion. Instead of drunkenly chucking dustbins through the city at four in the morning, his increasingly sharp understanding of the world allows him to run multiple plots and sub-plots, ghastly characters drawn from reality. The trick is to figure out which evil bastards are real, and which is us (as in, you and me). 

And that, in essence, I suppose, is the point. There's a quest, which in the way of quests, is mystical (think Tarot, the daft occult and the even dafter Third Reich's obsession with assorted 'magical' objects, rumoured or factual), but also think a main character who dreams into a nightmarish alternate reality, based in a reality most of us aren't aware of. 

Yeah, alright, so it's heavy on the metaphor. The beauty of both books is that they're a visual and intellectual rush, where Bob doesn't so much play games as dangle dirty great hooks with wriggly worms which no stupid fish like us can prevent ourselves from pouncing, stupid jaws agape. 

Some will whinge about possible confusion. Well, life's like that. Our present is often mangled by the past and our expectations of the future. And what we believed then and what we believe now.

From the first book: “Potential energy is the energy held by an object because of its position relative to other objects,” says the Magic Cat, of a corrupt minister being tied into a Mr Blobby suit by a goth dominatrix. Analysis of merely one page would take up far more space here than I have time for. Writing the book (there's also written book, yes) would have taken less time and effort than any attempt to either plot it out or storyboard it. 

Both “Red, White and Blue”s contain a blizzard of references, concepts and home truths wrapped up in about four (I think) sub-plots (or diversions) which whisk you along, agog for what on earth is on the other page. Will Bob follow the thread you're reading, or will he switch gears (again)? It's not important. Me, I arrive at the last page, my brain a-heave and breathless, and wanting more. And wanting to go back and do it all again. 

Yeah, “Red White and Blue” 1 & 2 are Royal Show rides for the brain and soul.

Chockas with all that is quite a lot of spit-out-your-brandy-and-cocoa humour. 

Caveat One: you need to have a bit of quiet time to read these for the first time. If you get it, you'll get it, and you'll want more.

Caveat Two: You cain't get this in the shops. Pester Bob on his Facefart page. And get number one on Kindle.  

Caveat Three: I'm not going explain the plots, nor where they take you, nor why, nor the rather marvellous flips and familiar figures. Bob Short both dissembles and inverts in a rather magnificent churn of modern life. 

Caveat Four: All comics need a supervillain, and a superhero. 

If I said you need more Short in your life, would you hold it against me?  - Robert Brokenmouth

three mcgarrett

Sydney’s Bob Short walks his own path: from the character of as teenage blue-collar Wollongong punk to near  starvation living in London’s squats and his goth punk band Blood and Roses.

Bob is a singer-guitarist who was a member of Sydney's first punk band, Filth. He was an Oxford Funhouse regular who has toured as a member of Chris Masuak's band.

Bob still produces an electic mix of self-styled low-fi albums that avoid the mainstream. One is a soundtrack to a 1930s German expressionist movie. He also has a regular segment on the cult Sonny Michael’s streamed Internet show out of Brisbane

Bob Short is just simply creative and way too cynical to even think about  commercialism

I have to say one thing - expect the unexpected from Bob. I knew about his autobiography and now there’s another string to Bob’s bow in what would you can call his "adult comic". It has taken me by surprise; it's puzzling and challenging, intellectual and full of iconic images.

You can wonder what Bob’s nightmares are about and, well, maybe now we have a glimpse.

How do you review Bob’s comic book? Well, it isn’t actually a comic book but more of a deep dive into images and fragments of dialogue and it is defintely a page turner.


insiide red white and blue


The reader is taken on a trip, page by page, as you are visually hit between the eyes. You almost need to stare for hours to work the threads out.  Bob even interjects a voice to the reader that explains this to us.

If I there was a historic context to Bob’s book, I reckon it is a nod to the Dadaist movement:  rejecting logic, anti- bourgeois, anti-capitalist and rooted in left wing intellectualism. The extreme mixture of images - from Boris Johnston and cartoons of rabbits - can really take you on a trip, with obscure historical facts about the Nazis mixing with iconic beauty and New York hipness of Blondie.  It creates something new in its entirety

Yes, we read conversations with Bowie, Iggy and Lou Reed with the narration by a rabbit. The artwork ranges from quickly textured images to detailed historical imaginings. Some are mixed with occult images   This is an interesting technique. There’s even cameo by Mary Whitehouse, a long forgotten British moral crusader. This is a commentary on the British class system, a ghost that Bob has not shaken from his time living in London 40 years ago.

It is brilliant, high quality, challenging and original: this edition is one of a series. “Red White and Blue” is limited run of 100 and volume 2 is imminent. Copies are $A25 each and available on his Facebook page. - Edwin Garland

three mcgarrett