BBC Bristol is putting together a history of British comics and one of their researchers posted a message about it to Warren Ellis's website The Engine:
In a nutshell we have been commissioned to make three one hour programmes on the subject of British comics history. It's roughly divided into three 'eras', each focusing on seminal, iconic comic lines starting in the war years with the emergence of the Dandy and DC Thomson. Each programme aims to put the comics into artistic, social and cultural (and appreciative!) context, attempting to bring in the people that were witness to the actual processes of writing/editing/artistry. The first programme will cover the war years, with some overlap into programme two which will cover the 'morality panic' and emergence of the Eagle in the 50s, and via the underground in the 70s into such things 2000AD...(ring any bells?...I'm kidding). We're going to look at how they reflected the society of the times, and were in turn shaped by society; also to explore things like the genesis of a character, the 'business' side- the ups and downs, attempts to stay current etc etc.Sounds interesting if they can bring it off. Has there actually been a full-length programme about British comics before? There have certainly been segments of programmes -- most recently an interview with Alan Moore on The Culture Show (BBC2, 9 March 2006); BBC4 have done some shows about individual cartoonists in the past year (Donald McGill, Ronald Searle, Steve Bell) but I can't think of anything covering British comics per se.
Some other bits and bobs:
- Geeks Assemble. The London ABC Show is on Sunday week -- that's Sunday 17 September 2006 between noon and 5pm at the Royal National Hotel, Bedford Way, Russell Square, London WC1H. ABC stands for Art, Books and Comics and that's pretty much what you'll find. It's tied in with the National Collectors Marketplace which has a wider brief of American comics, trading cards, TV tie ins, Manga, DVD, etc. The two shows coincided last February and a lot of surprised new faces appeared around the usually quiet tables of dealers in British comics. It's worth attending even if you only look at some of the artwork and comics available.
- Dandy Monster Price. COMPAL's latest (Autumn 2006) auction has finished and the results are due to be posted shortly. But the Glasgow Daily Record (8 September 2006) has already revealed that the copy of Beano Comic #1 on offer sold for £8,252, lower than the estimate (£8,500-9,500) and a fair bit lower than the last time the Daily Record mentioned it when it was "expected to fetch up to £10,000." (Yes, I know... "up to"... technically correct but still an overestimate). The first Dandy Annual -- then called the Dandy Monster Comic -- went for £6230 (est. £3,800-4,200), which is a new record.
- Recommended Reading. Kickback by David Lloyd (Dark Horse). I've been looking forward to this for quite a while. The book was first published in France by Editions Carabas in 2005 but has only recently (23 August) been published in an English language edition. Kickback is a hardboiled crime thriller set in Franklin City where cop-on-the-take Joe Canelli is struggling with gangs and guilt in equal measure. If you've read James Ellroy you won't find the story especially original but it holds together well and the dialogue is sharp. But it is Lloyd's artwork that gives it the edge. As in his best-known series V For Vendetta, he doesn't use thought balloons or sound effects, so the whole story relies on captions and dialogue. The artwork hits just the right note, shadowy and evocative, and is coloured to match. Far from being gloomy, Kickback is a moody tour de force, told in the artistic equivalent of the tight, staccato sentences of the best crime noir. To find out a little more behind the story, interviews where David Lloyd talks about Kickback can be found at Down the Tubes, Comic Book Resources, Newsarama, The Comic Fanatic and Superhero Hype.
(* Thinking of David Lloyd, I immediately dragged out a copy of The Face That Must Die by Ramsey Campbell to re-read. I've always thought David was Campbell's best illustrator way, way back when he was producing thumb nails and illustrations for the British Fantasy Society. The Face That Must Die is a harrowing trip through the mind of a man descending into madness. The mood of the story always makes me think of David's art -- dark, shadowy, bleak, fractured... I can't think of anyone else who could turn the story into a comic. Whether it needs to be turned into a comic is another matter entirely, but if it ever is... )