Monday, 4 April 2011

There’s never been a better time for British comics than right now!

OK, maybe my hyperbolic headline is a little OTT—as we did have and incredibly vibrant and diverse comics industry for over 100 years, which we woefully squandered—but I truly believe that we have, right now, an excellent chance to rebuild the business from scratch.

Just taking an overview on the scene right now, we have: Clint magazine, a revitalised and refreshingly original Dandy; at least 11 major comic conventions or event in the UK and Ireland lined up this year (two of which are brand new), the (literal) Phoenix anthology soon to be rising from the ashes of The DFC; regular panels and a comic pavilion as part of the London Book Fair... I could go on.
Another example of this potentially bright future fell through my letterbox the other day in the shape of the third issue of the New British Comics. It’s to my deep shame that I actually missed issues 1 and 2, and judging by this one, that’s my big loss.

The sheer breadth of quality inside, both in storytelling and artwork is mightily impressive, from the superbly crafted Simpsons-esque Charlie Parker “Handyman” by Lawrence Elwick and Paul O’Connell (who also drew the above cover), through the brutally hilarious Cindy & Biscuit Save The World by Dan White, right up to Wilbur Dawbarn’s spin on Narnia, Wonderland.
 WJC’s superb supernatural western, Von Trapp (above), is a joy to behold (with only half a point lost for slightly confusing storytelling) and David Ziggy Greene’s A Complex Machine, a creepy tale of alternative therapies, will put you off having massages for the rest of your life. Invariably with an anthology there are always weaker strips, but they are too few to mention here. Ironic, then, that it takes Pole, Karol Wisniewski, to pull all these British talents together and edit such a quality publication.

It seems we are learning from the mistakes of the past. Of course, there are always a few cul de sacs (after all, some of us remember the false dawn of the early 1990s which promised, but never delivered, respect from literati) but generally speaking we are forging ahead with cautious optimism, as opposed to blind enthusiasm.

Here’s to the future of British comics and publications like New British Comics that herald it.