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Monday, November 05, 2007

Comics Britannia Rule! at the ICA

The series of talks at the ICA yesterday (Sunday, 4 November) were a great success, I'm pleased to say. A small but perfectly formed audience were on hand for three talks. Having planned the trip down to the last second, I managed to arrive late and missed the first half of the opening act about girls' comics which proved to be quite a lively discussion judging by the latter half.

We -- that's David Roach, David Kendall and myself -- were up next and after a battle with the laptop, which kept crashing when we tried to load pictures, we managed to jabber on for 70 minutes about war comics, mostly concentrating on the old war libraries but rambling over various other aspects of war comics from their use as propaganda to why they're still popular today. I doubt if we managed to shed any great light on the subject but it was far less nervewracking than I expected.

Having wandered off to chat to people and sign anything that needed signing we subsequently missed the first half of the next panel which was Pat Mills and Gerry Finley-Day talking about their time on comics, both girls' and boys', and then Pat and Kev O'Neill talking about pretty much the same subjects. There were some fascinating insights into the editorial workings of putting comics together and it proved so popular that they managed to overrun by half an hour.

From the reaction in the bar later I think everyone enjoyed the event and the only regrets I have are (a) not having enough time to talk to everyone who came, although it was great to see Charlotte Fawley, Ramon Sola, Simon Jowett, Richard Sheaf, Rufus Dayglo and others, and (b) that I forgot to dig out my camera when Pat, Gerry and Kev were talking so that I had some photos to show off. But those regrets aside, it proved to be an interesting experience as it's the first time I've been on a panel for years (I think the last time was at one of the Glasgow Comic Conventions about 15 years ago, or maybe one we did at one or other of the Paperback & Pulp Book Fairs).


  1. Hi! I stopped by to say hello briefly at the end of the War talk, along with the Chinese lass who'd made interesting comments. Enjoyed it all a lot - I missed out on the chat at the bar afterwards, though, because on the one hand we were keen to get in to the Mills / Findlay-Day / O'Neill session, and on the other hand we had to get back to Oxford after the end of that very session.

    Is your index of British Story Papers still being updated, and is it supposed to cover comics at all? I'd be interested in contributing if it does cover comics (or is there somewhere else to do that?).



  2. Grr. It's supposed to put in the link to my LiveJournal, sorry.

  3. Hi Steve,
    I took a few photos of the "boys" talks so when I get them printed I'll send them along (not taken on a digital cmaera sadly so it'll be at least a week yet I'm afraid).

    I enjoyed the talks and was sorry to have to rush off at the end as I would happily have stayed and propped up the bar.

    Here's hoping for a similar seesion next year.


  4. Glad you enjoyed the talks, Jenni.

    (If you want to explore girls' comics a little deeper, Jenni is the author of a very detailed article on the comic Jinty...

    ... which I can heartily recommend.)

    The Story Paper Index is always ongoing but the site hasn't been updated for some time due to pressure of work; three people were involved in getting the various lists up onto the site, all of whom have changed jobs in the last couple of years so it hasn't been easy to get our act together.

    I am still gathering data and one day there will be a major update. Meanwhile, I like to think that the information that's already there is proving useful to someone.

    Comics aren't covered on that list, hence the new series of indexes that we have in production. Because of the costs involved -- not to mention the time it takes to research them -- these are likely to appear slowly (but, we hope, steadily). I recently posted a list of titles that had appeared some years ago as photocopied books and those titles are all being upgraded; we're also actively working on new titles covering various boys' and girls' comics. What I might do -- and it's only a vague notion at the moment -- is put out some of the less complete lists in a cheaper format as stopgap volumes. That way, people will be able to see what information we've been able to gather so far and where the holes are... and maybe we can fill a few of the holes that way where we (and by "we" I mean the little group of information gatherers who have done the bulk of the indexing to date) don't have access to particular comics.

    If anyone thinks they can contribute information, just drop me a line.

  5. Richard,

    Many thanks for the offer -- and I'll be very happy to take you up on it.

    When I spoke to Paul Gravett after the talks, he told me he is very keen to do more along the lines of Sunday's event. I think -- but I'm not 100% sure -- this was the first time a whole evening had been dedicated to British comics and it appeared to work well despite being held on a Sunday when people have to face the problem of Sunday transport and rushing off home because of work the next day.

    Guess we'll just have to keep our fingers crossed.

  6. I can't believe these sessions were not recorded as podcasts for all of us that sadly couldn't make the event itself !!!!

    If any other events like this are planned, please can the audio be recorded ??

  7. Joe Darkie - Paul Gravett says the evening was recorded and may appear as an item on Resonance FM internet radio station.

    Steve - thanks for the plug for my article, and for the reply on the indexes. I can certainly send you my incomplete story index for Jinty if you're interested, some other time.

  8. Seems that Resonance FM are broadcasting the talk at 8pm this evening (Thursday). I'm still trying to get details of whether it will be podcast. And we didn't even know it was being recorded!

  9. OK... we were scheduled to appear at 8pm this evening and that's what was announced. But I've just tuned in to Resonance FM and it's a different show entirely. I gather from Alex Fitch that our talk was broadcast at 5pm instead of the scheduled Posy Simmonds interview.

    Alex also informs me that the broadcast will not be available as a podcast.

    Bit of a balls-up all round one way or another.

  10. If the audio exists why can't it be offered as a podcast ?? Is this some kind of lame rights issue ???

    I missed the real-time broadcast as did most of any potential audience.

    Seems totally bonkers to me to have such an interesting (hopefully!) discussion limited just to the audience on the day and a very few resonance fm listeners.

    Frankly its just another example of the dreadfully poor way in which supporters of UK comics are treated. (This would never have happened to a discussion in the US about Golden/Silver Age comics - podcasters would have been queuing up to make it available).