Close-Up: Four Feet From A Rat - Mother's London homage

Shoreditch hotshop to publish quarterly graphic novel distributed by Time Out as a thank you to the inspiring city life.

Graphic novel, comic book or sequential art pamphlet - whatever you want to call them, they're certainly not the usual stomping ground of an advertising agency.

But ever the idiosyncratic agency, Mother has produced its own graphic novel Four Feet From A Rat.

The quarterly publication will run as an insert in Time Out, and is a contra deal where Mother has produced low-cost advertising in return for distribution of the comic.

The first instalment came out this week and reveals no hidden brand messages or communications, not even a Time Out logo.

According to Mother, this is a piece of "second generation" branded content that will enrich the content of the magazine and enable the agency to give something back to the people and environment that inspires them.

Dylan Williams, the lead strategy director on the project, explains: "It's not looking to communicate anything about Time Out, it's just a contribution to the magazine that will improve the read."

The agency has tailored the stories to tap into popular London culture, without seeming contrived. "We wanted to get into longer form content without ruining popular culture by making it look laboured, obvious or insidious," Williams says.

With this and Time Out's London-based readership in mind, the agency devised four tales, with London as the protagonist, each taking a different and rather twisted perspective of the city.

There is the tale of The Crane Gods, which depicts a group of aliens trying to discover the secrets of a post-apocalyptic London; The Routemaster reveals why London bus drivers are so miserable; The Little Guy, which follows the beginning of a vigilante movement made up of small traders attempting to regain their business back from powerful multinationals; and Don Pigeone in which a pigeon overlord describes how pigeons came to rule London.

Although the stories and words were produced by Mother, the agency worked in partnership with graphic novel publisher Mam Tor to create the imagery.

Despite this, they still believe the comic provides them with a refreshing medium to showcase their creative talents. "We have the same relationship with Mam Tor as we would with a photographer on a press shoot. What unifies everyone at Mother is they get off on making stuff. We've got a real buzz out of making it," Williams says.

Mother hopes the characters in the graphic novel will attract equity. "Don Pigeone may not be as famous as Woodstock in Peanuts at the moment but, in the future the characters could gain value," Andy Medd, a partner at Mother, says.