Friday, May 02, 2014

Comic Cuts - 2 May 2014

With the final word total just topping 40,000, I'm happy to announce that the introduction to the Countdown to TV Action index is FINISHED! Yaaaay! All I have to do now is sort out the illustrations, design the book, proof it, publish it and find ways to promote it.

OK, so now that I've realised there's still a long way to go I'm not feeling quite so ecstatic. But as of five o'clock yesterday afternoon I was over the Moon.

The introduction consist of a lengthy overview covering the history of the paper and its publisher, the contents and the people who put it together. In addition, there are two lengthy sections, one covering the 'Countdown' strip, the other a first-hand account of the TV Action photo features from TV Action's own action man, Roger Perry.

There's also the actual index, covering the weekly plus all spin-off annuals and specials—another 11,000 words—and by the time I've finished there will also be a title index and creators index.

That's one milestone passed . . . now let's head on to the next one.

Comics Unmasked opens at the British Library on 2 May and runs until 19 August 2014, Featuring such iconic names as Neil Gaiman (Sandman), Alan Moore (Watchmen, V for Vendetta), Grant Morrison (Batman: Arkham Asylum) and Posy Simmonds (Tamara Drewe), this exhibition traces the British comics tradition back through classic 1970s titles including 2000AD, Action and Misty to 19th-century illustrated reports of Jack the Ripper and beyond.

Comics Unmasked is the UK’s largest ever exhibition of mainstream and underground comics, showcasing works that uncompromisingly address politics, gender, violence, sexuality and altered states. It explores the full anarchic range of the medium with works that challenge categorisation, preconceptions and the status quo, alongside original scripts, preparatory sketches and final artwork that demystify the creative process. Enter the subversive and revelatory world of comics, from the earliest pioneers to today’s digital innovators.

Parental guidance
Parental guidance is advised for visitors under 16 years of age due to the explicit nature of some of the exhibits on display. Within the exhibition, there is a separate section examining sexual themes which visitors can by-pass if they wish. Please be aware that the Library retains the right to request proof of age. Visitors under 16 years of age who are unaccompanied by an adult will not be admitted.

Another celebration of British comics, albeit a rather more lighthearted one, is to be published by Obverse Books in June. In The Annual Years, Paul Magrs will be taking a look at the history and content of the Doctor Who Annual from its early days under the wings of World Distributors until it took a break in the late 1980s. The 270-page hardback celebrates "These extraordinary books are like weird, grotesque shadow-versions of the Show we recognise," according to Magrs, who has written Doctor Who stories for Big Finish, the BBC and AudioGo. "These are adventures in a wilder, destabilized universe. The cosiness of what we recognise as Doctor Who has gone."

Certainly the cover adds emphasis to that latter quote, with the Doctors barely recognisable. If, as has been suggested, the cover is meant to reflect the occasionally dodgy artwork that appeared in the early annuals, it's an idea that has backfired badly because none of those annual covers was anywhere close to being this grotesque. See for yourself. Hopefully the paperback (due out in August) will have a more attractive cover.

Talking of attractive covers brings us neatly to our random scans. This week I thought I'd tidy up a couple of old Fontana covers, including another John L. Baker and one by an artist named Chalmers, who did at least a couple of other Fontana covers. However, we start with Mona Lisa because it was one of my favourite of Bob Hoskins' movies and one of the films I'll be watching this weekend, along with The Long Good Friday and Who Framed Roger Rabbit?—three of his best movies.

Next week we're heading towards the climax of Paul Temple. I was supposed to be running this strip while I was designing the Countdown book. How can it be coming to an end already?

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