City of Abacus – A Comic with a Difference

VV Brown

Singer and songwriter Vanessa ‘VV’ Brown has been making a name for herself over the past few years with her incredible song writing capabilities gaining her the attention of former Blur frontman Damon Albarn, who signed her up to sing on his Africa Exprez tour that took place in Lagos back in 2008. Since then, VV has been working on perfecting her sound, and released her acclaimed debut album ‘Travelling Like the Light’ last July. Although she is currently working on her release, it is VV’s side project, a comic series called the ‘City of Abacus’ (COA) that has once again brought the media spotlight onto the 26 year old from Northampton.

With the first issue of six being released this month, we spoke to VV about the COA Project, and what her plans for the future of the comic series are.

Onyxx – What is the concept behind the ‘City of Abacus’?

VV – City of Abacus is about a world where individuality is lost, technology breaks the gap between reality and organic living and epic tales which conjure up emotional highs and realistic concepts.

Onyxx – COA is a collaborative project between yourself, David Allain and Emma Price, what does each individual bring to the project?

VV – I wrote the overall story, and I also do the scripts for each issue. David is my business partner, his job is to really bring the characters to life, and Emma Price is an amazing illustrator who does the visuals for the comic.

Onyxx – How did the name ‘COA’ come about?


VV – The abacus was the first computer, so we were all taught by it. The Greeks first used this system in the early centuries. It represents technology, and the first city of technology where the beginning of loss of individuality began due to those that held the power of that technology manipulating the masses to be less “enlightened” by the truth. The name basically came from the influence of that story.

Onyxx – How will the ‘COA’ series run?

VV – Each month, on the 6th to be exact, we will be displaying a new volume of the comic which is available to buy on the website, and as an Iphone application. The series will eventually lead to a graphic novel that will be released at the end of the year in December. We will be putting on a huge art exhibition which will hopefully be at the Tate.





Onyxx – You’ve described the ‘COA’ as ‘Manga Marxism,’ your aim is to try and put across political concepts through illustration, what sort of issues/themes will you be dealing with in the comic?

VV – The key themes are exploitation, control, loss of individuality and truth, the division of classes and social groups, the relationship between technology and power, production and organisational empowerment, revolution and truth.

Onyxx – Each issue of ‘COA’ will be released with its own musical composition created by yourself, are you able to give us any insight into what to expect?

VV – The music for the comics will be very experimental and very free. It will be really different from the mainstream stuff that is out, and its a real chance for me to tap into my love of scoring and film music, and just really do something entirely different from my own stuff.

Onyxx – The main character in the series is called Freeda, is the character based on you?

VV – We are associated but we are separate. She represents freedom hence the name Freeda. She’s stubborn, but also shy, a symbol of freedom. She’s also very vulnerable and young.

Onyxx – Is there anything in particular that has inspired or contributed to the creation of ‘COA’?

VV – ‘1984’ by George Orwell. It’s one of my favourite books of all time. I love how he puts across the idea of a Big Brother nation, for me that was inspirational.

Onyxx – What are the long term plans for the comic?


VV – The long term objective is for the comic to become a franchise, which will hopefully lead to video games, merchandise and a movie if it all goes well.

Onyxx – If you had to sum up what ‘COA” is about in three words, what would they be?

VV – City of Abacus is Political. Epic. A Tale.


Nicole Gibbons


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