The Cartoon Museum in London has an exhibition on the Great British graphic novel running until the 24th July. The museum itself is tucked away on Little Russell street just round the corner from the British museum, and conveniently located for a combined visit to the Forbidden Planet store on Shrewsbury avenue, and the nearby Orbital and Gosh comics shops.
The exhibition itself features many of the usual suspects and probably won’t have too many surprises for any reader who has some knowledge of what has been going on in British comics in the last few decades. What it does have is some lovely original pages which you can view in all their glory.
I paid the £7 entrance fee and wandered around the small but well utilised space all by myself taking some pictures of individual pieces of art. I had a very modern social media experience when I posted pictures on Facebook and the comments told me that I was breaking the museum rules on photography, I had missed the little sign informing me on the ban for copyright reasons. Not that this stopped me taking more pictures although reflections from the glass frames made most of them fairly useless.Stars of the show are the two original pages from Watchmen owned by the museum and rarely seen in the wild. It was fascinating to see one of the pages with John Higgins’ initial colours and notes about what further changes were needed. There are also a couple of V for Vendetta pages and a video of David Lloyd discussing the development of the Guy Fawkes mask and its adoption as a symbol of social protest. Further on there are examples of Dave McKeen and Mark Buckingham’s covers for Neil Gaiman’s Sandman and plenty of Bryan Talbot pages from Luther Arkwright, One Bad Rat, and his magnificent Alice in Sunderland.
Apart from the Watchmen pages possibly the other stand outs for me were the pages from Charley’s War which seems to become a more important and relevant piece of British graphic story telling every time I look at it. Joe Colqhoun’s art looks stunning in the large format and made me want to dash back to my copies and revisit his and Pat Mills’ magnum opus.
2000AD is represented by three pages, Colin MacNeil’s definitive America cover, which interestingly comes from John Wagner’s own collection, is beautiful to behold. Has there ever been finer painted work in the Megazine? The other two pages are by King Carlos himself and both owned by the museum, a Strontium Dog page featuring Durham Red and Ronald Reagan, and a coloured page from Inferno.Upstairs there is a smaller loft space gallery of examples of pages from the museum’s collection including the covers of the Doctor Who Target novels, although that smaller exhibition might be gone by the time this review is posted.
Scattered around the rooms were a number of well handled comics for kids to read while their parents gaze at the framed art. Lots of Beanos and Doctor Who comics but no 2000ADs, I don’t know if this was because of the age appropriateness of current Progs but I may drop off some older spare copies next time I’m there.
The current exhibition may only be of interest for those who want to see some terrific pages from British graphic novels from the last forty years or so. For the 2000AD fan the three pages may not be worth the price of admission at the moment, but as I mentioned above the nearby Forbidden Planet has an impressive selection of 2000AD books and most of the recent Hachette part works volumes. Meanwhile both Orbital and Gosh are more traditional comic shops with boxes of back issues including lots of Progs in both shops.Of more interest will be the planned exhibition of 2000AD artwork to tie in with the 40th anniversary next year. That will certainly be worth a visit and I will also be watching the museum website for details of the linked events and talks nearer the time. As ever watch this space for news and a review of that much anticipated exhibition.
Orlok is counting the stories out and then counting them back in again. It’s 1982, the Argies have a foothold in the Galaxy’s Greatest and only Pat Mills leading a bayonet charge can save the day…
The Poseidon Complex
Antonio Barretti & Louis Schaeffer
(Guy Adams & Jimmy Broxton)
Review by Seth
Okay, before we go any further, I’m not going to bother with the pretence that this is an authentic collection of a long lost 60’s newspaper strip. What it is, is an affectionate homage to the newspaper serials that I remember as being stylish, dynamic, perhaps a wee bit baffling and if I were honest, a tad titillating.
This is also notable for being the first completely original 2000ad fat comic (copyright Kev O’Neill). Not printed before in either the Prog’ or Meg’ publication, originally a Kickstarter project, Rebellion tooks a fancy to it and its not hard to see why.
If you have been off planet for a while, you will not know that this is indeed a completely made up collection of a fabriacted newspaper strip fromthe 1960s, credited to a completely fictitious yet compellingly dysfunctional creative team
It begins conventionally enough. Lily Gold and Jack Tiger are swinging sixties adventurers working from their fashion house in London. Reports of boats going missing on the Thames pique their curiosity and they are soon drawn into a web of intrigue and an international conspiracy led by a master criminal. Along the way they meet monsters, visit exotic locations, whilst taking a few side steps into the creative process and interludes hosted by some rather unexpected guest stars.
All very meta.
It isn’t just a “reprint” of the newspaper strip. There are cuttings, interviews, roughs of “missing” pages, and copies of correspondence between the writer and artist, charting the breakdown in their working relationship. If this was a DVD it would be the special edition with the behind the scenes material, cut scenes and directors’s narrative. Except you know, it’s all fake.
Guy Adams is known for some cracking “Rogue Trooper” one offs in the Sci Fi specials and the successful revival of the frankly quite obscure “Ulysses Sweet”. All of these made me think this was worth a punt I’ve only come across Jimmy Broxton via the “Batman” spin off “Knight and Squire”, but he’s made a fantastic job here. Not just in the art style, but in the design of the package.It really does feel like one of the collections of old newspaper strips back when they was popular.
Adams and Broxton have lovingly chronicled the creation of the strip. The increasingly desperate touting of the strip, its failure, cancellation and the misfortune the creative team experienced post the “publication”.
The combinationof a sharp script and carefully stylised art evokes the spirit of the the spy adventure type strips of the 60s and 70s. The strips that I remember from my childhood, such as Garth and the oddly prurient air of things like “George and Lynne” – where the female star always seemed to be at most half naked and in the most unlikely poses. Quite satisfying for your average teen aged boy. Broxton fulfils those requirements particualrly on the “Barberella” alike “Goldtiger 2000” found in the rear (fnar) of the package, Barreti’s “submission” to the House of Tharg, and his final roll of the dice.
I will confirm that it this is indeed brill’, and everyone should buy a copy.
Tidy. As we say around these parts.
ECBT2000AD Ep256 – Pat Mills pt2
Uncle Pat talks American Reaper, Accident Man, Flesh, Savage, Toxic, Chapbooks and answers listeners questions.
Podcast available via itunes or the Libsyn Webpage as a direct download
Ahh…They grow up so fast! Eamonn Clarkes’ new podcast . Here’s the blurb and check out the link below to listen.
“It’s the first episode of a new podcast dedicated to all the collected editions from 2000AD and Rebellion publishing. I’m your host Eamonn Clarke and for this first outing I’m joined by Simon Belmont to discuss the lovely hardback that is Dan Dare: The 2000AD years volume one.”
For Eamonns blog…Click below.