orchid nails


A comiXologist Recommends…
Jen Keith recommends:

Cafe Racer

Café Racer: noun
(1) a light-weight, stripped down motorcycle built for speed and short distance riding between cafés/bars; part of the Rocker subculture and originated in England in the 1960s.

(2) an anthology collection that resulted from Sean Murphy’s 2014 comics apprenticeship; a really, really cool book featuring work by Sean Murphy, Jorge Coelho, Tana Ford, Stephen Green, Corin Howell, Joe Dellagatta, and Clay McCormack.

In 2014, Sean Murphy, creator of Punk Rock Jesus  and artist on titles such as Joe the Barbarian and The Wake, offered an apprenticeship where students learned from him about comics. From that came this book: one cohesive story illustrated by six artists, including Murphy himself, that follows one particular bike and its rider.

Orchid, the tough as nails lead, is a half-Japanese, half-English girl living with her father in England after losing her mother during WWII. The legend about café racers goes that the riders would select a record and race to another café only to return before the song ended; Orchid does this, and she does it very well, despite her father’s best efforts to discourage her. Her passion for racing and love for this bike guide her to the truth of her family’s history and the origin of this unique motorcycle.

I’ve been a fan of Murphy’s work for some time now, and it was really interesting to see his techniques influence other artists’ work. Each student had to create a character and a location for their portion, and we get to see how each turned their part into a fully-realized contribution. The book itself is truly a love letter to well drawn motorcycle. Each chapter is separated by an artist bio and defined by their differing styles, but Orchid’s fierceness and the care put into the artwork remains consistent throughout.

A unique addition to this book is the bonus content which includes concept art, progress work, pin-ups by big-name artists, and even photos of the group during the internship. It gives a wonderful insight into what went into making the book, and is a fun glimpse into the antics involved in making comics.

If you’re a fan of Sean Murphy, reading beautifully rendered black and white comics, or the creative process of making comics, then Café Racer is a great addition to your comics library.

[Read Cafe Racer on comiXology]

Jen Keith is a Digital Editor at comiXology, comic artist, music addict, and has grand dreams of riding a motorcycle someday but will probably wimp out as soon as it picks up speed.