Ben Tallon's new graphic book rips open Britain's dirty underbelly with a heaping of dark comedy
Ya Mum and Other Stories from the Backstreets of Britain is a new collection of 21 illustrated black comedy short stories, moments and embarrassments from the brilliantly warped mind of writer and illustrator, Ben Tallon.
Based on a rancid line-up of iconic British street "artefacts", including the humble traffic cone, cigarette butt, beer can, dirty mattress, laughing gas canister and more, Ben's raw illustrations and energetic, unfiltered style of writing leave a permanent literary stain on society's metaphorical sofa.
Ben invites us to take a naughty peek through a two-way mirror, honing in on "al the things dubious, dirty and distasteful from life in Britain". The book's own film trailer features an exclusive guest dialogue by Shaun Ryder, the infamous Happy Mondays and Black Grape front-man. He describes the project as: "Proper moody and horrible stuff." (Ben and Shaun became mates after they bumped into each other during dog walks – true story!)
"I've always been drawn to the disregarded and overlooked," explains Ben. "I'm the weirdo bent over, photographing a shoe in the street while everyone else stares up at the shiny tourist attraction. These horrible artefacts are an inescapable part of British culture. I wanted to tell their story."
In one short story entitled Another Sad Stray, we learn of a bike with no wheels. It reads: "In the pale orange promise of the city sunrise, slumps the skeleton of an abandoned child. Stripped to the bones overnight, cartoon piranha style, it waits without wheels, chained between two bicep thick rails; a loveless, sudden end for yesterday’s glowing pride. What once flew with angels on the ceiling of the independent bicycle store, now rusts with hospital strength beer cans in urban purgatory. No police force budgets stretch here. Finally, after weeks of sad, passing glances, the council reapers come; the bolt cutter removal of the bike chain; a last arm around a brittle metal shoulder."
Ya Mum is available for pre-order now. It is released on 22 October 2020 in limited edition paperback, e-book and audiobook formats. Discover more at bentallonwriter.com.