Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Whatever happened to British Comics?

It used to be that "whatever happened to British Comics scene?" was a regular complaint at various comicbook messageboards, and with this week being solicitation time for the Big Two, it's reminded me of those arguments. When I first heard it asked, years ago, I replied "It's still going. It's just now called Vertigo." This is less true now: most of the Vertigo books I currently read have American writers, though plenty of Brits still are employed by that imprint. There's Andy Diggle and Jock, who've just ended THE LOSERS; Mike Carey is in regular employment there, and will be doing FAKER with Jock soon; Phil Bond is doing covers for THE EXTERMINATORS; Liam Sharp is the main artist on TESTAMENT, and half the fill-in team on that title is British, too; Scottish crime writer Denise Mina scripts HELLBLAZER; and Mark Buckingham continues to draw the hell out of the great FABLES, to name a few. Diggle seems to be being groomed as the next big thing by DC, and has some high profile Batman work coming up soon, always the best launchpad in comics. 

Comparitively, Vertigo's parent DC Comics have fewer Brits onboard, but they involve Grant Morrison and Frank Quitely, their superstars du jour, Dougie Braithwaite's work on JUSTICE and current 2000AD anchor Henry Flint on OMEGA MEN.


What amazed me most looking at today's Marvel solicitations, though, was the sheer amount of newer British artistic talent working there this month (plus some golden greats like Steve Dillon, Staz Johnson, Sean Phillips and Alan Davis), and a couple of relatively new (to comics, at least) British writers starting to make their mark at The House Of Ideas, too (never mind Marvel's reliance on old stagers like Warren Ellis, Garth Ennis and Mark Millar, their current license to print money). Vertigo veteran Mike Carey is making a home for himself there too, writing ULTIMATE FANTASTIC FOUR, ULTIMATE VISION and X-MEN. COM X veterans Ben Oliver and Rob Williams both have high profile work from Marvel's X-Office, drawing ULTIMATE X-MEN and writing WOLVERINE (drawn by Laurence Campbell, recently seen improving with every assignment at 2000AD) respectively. David Hine continues to write for Marvel, despite the cancellation of his highly regarded DISTRICT X due to the fallout of another of Brian Bendis's cheesier fanfic ideas. The HOLIDAY SPECIAL is a veritable Brit-fest, with work by Carey, Roger Langridge (not technically British, but resident all the same), Mike Perkins (also drawing UNION JACK that month, for God's sake, though that title mysteriously fails to have a U.K. based writer), with a cover by Frazer Irving. Yet another 2000AD alumni, Andrew Currie, sees the first issue of a WONDER MAN mini-series come out. The all-Brit team of DOCTOR WHO script-writer Paul Cornell and Trevor Hairsine continue along the road to break-out sleeper hit on their WISDOM mini-series. And that's just the names I recognise as Brits. There could be a bunch of closet Yorkshiremen hiding amongst the host of other creators I haven't mentioned.


So, next time someone mentions the old "whatever happened to the U.K. comics scene?" chestnut, remember the answer - "it's doing fine, only now it's called Marvel".

7 comments:

Mark said...

There was supposed to be some images with all this blather, but the lottery that is Blogger's interface decided to muck me about instead.

Brandon said...

I've noticed that DC seems to have cut back on their number of British creators.

On a side note, do you have quite a few laughs when you read dialogue that American writers think sounds like British people speak? The latest issue of Captain America comes to mind.

Mark said...

Yeah, but Ed Brubaker isn't the worst at it. *cough*Chris Claremont*cough* Nor is Christos Gage, though I do believe any series featuring a British protagonist may as well have a British writer. It's not as if these islands are short of decent comic book script droids.

Mark said...

I can't believe I forgot SIR DAVE GIBBONS, currently writing and occasionally drawing GREEN LANTERN CORPS, and doing the odd ACTION COMICS cover as well.

Anonymous said...

whatever happened to British Comics?

i'd say some are dead, some started their own comic clubs and some are still doing the rounds. cannon and ball found god and do the god circuit instead of seedy clubs.

Mark said...

Oh my fucking sides.

Anonymous said...

add the writer of The Exterminators to the list, Simon Oliver. He's English..