The Middle Ground #87 | Because you (I) demanded it!
As it turns out, April will see the release of one of those collections that I’ve always wanted, but had pretty much given up all hope of ever seeing, as Nick Abadzis’ Hugo Tate gets a complete collection and – hopefully – the comic world will realize what an amazing, important comic it’s been missing out on for so long. But the fact that this series is finally getting re-released and just might get the attention and treatment it deserves has me thinking: What other long-vanished projects need this kind of return?
(Warning: Strong Brit-centric suggestions ahead. What can I say? Most of my formative comic experiences were either British or Marvel or DC…)
Considering the attention given (justifiably so, I should add) to Jamie Hewlett’s Tank Girl, I’m always somewhat surprised that Wired World, Philip Bond’s contribution to the early days of Deadline, has been seemingly overlooked in the Big Imaginary Book of Comic History; with more heart and, arguably, more skill than Hewlett at the time, Bond’s occasionally surreal/occasionally sentimental/always enjoyable series about the lives of two flatmates, Pippa and Liz, in a world that started quite sci-fi but ended heartbreakingly mundane was like a mix of Tank Girl and Love and Rockets, but with cuddlier art. Given Bond’s relatively high level of name recognition in projects since Deadline, this is a book that feels long overdue.
(Actually, a Bond anthology of all of his Deadline work, including his follow-up series, Cheeky Wee Budgie Boy and all of his various shorts and fill-ins and whatnot, would be even better, if less coherent and maybe less likely to sell…)
Skidmarks/The End of The Century Club
Ilya’s long-running series of series – starting with the Bic mini-comics and continuing through all manner of false starts, appearances in various other series and eventually a short series of their own – about a group of friends and ne’er-do-wells in London has been collected in part as Skidmarks: The Complete Bic Cycle (with a cover by Tim Sale and an introduction by Joe Casey, no less) and a couple of End of The Century Club books, but I’d love to see one book that brings them all together for the first time, and maybe even presents the never-published final chapters; there’s a level of soap opera and social commentary in Ilya’s work that’s rarely seen in comics, and when it’s matched with his skillful writing (There’s a lot of Ilya’s wordplay and sense of pacing in Brandon Graham’s King City, although I’m not sure if the latter has even read any Ilya work) and increasingly loose and exciting artwork, the end result is easily some of the most impressive British comics of the late 20th century, and something that really, really should be in print and available to people who like to see what comics can get up to, if they really want to.
Sooner Or Later/Swifty’s Return
This one’s entirely selfish; I want to see Rebellion collect these two short strips from 2000AD because it’s been years since I’ve had a chance to read them. They’re both written by Peter Milligan, with the first (Sooner Or Later, which only ran one page per episode for 32 episodes) having art by Brendan McCarthy and the second (Swifty’s Return, a four part follow-up running four pages per episode) being illustrated by a young Jamie Hewlett, and each one is filled with Milligan’s particular brand of humor and weirdness. Given the success that Milligan, McCarthy and Hewlett all went on to have, this is another one that I can’t believe doesn’t have enough of a built-in audience to be worth publishing already.
Again, if I had my druthers, I’d create some kind of uber-Milligan/McCarthy omnibus. Besides Sooner Or Later, the fact that both Strange Days and (especially) Skin are out of print just feels like a collective failure by the world of comics.
Pirate Corp$/Hectic Planet
I’ll admit it; that the world has a Milk and Cheese omnibus is probably a better thing than collecting Evan Dorkin’s earlier(?) attempt at an ongoing series, considering (a) more people seemed to like M&C, and (b) as a collection of one-or-two page gag strips (for the most part), M&C‘s omnibus is likely to be a less frustrating reading experience when collected than a collection of Pirate Corp$ (AKA Hectic Planet, although I think that was only the title for… one issue, before the book disappeared?), which was a continuing narrative that vanished before it “ended,” as much as these things ever end. But there’s a lot to love about Pirate Corp$, and I think it really shows off Dorkin’s early writing chops pretty well. Maybe one day, we’ll see this, if the M&C collection and potential-mooted-who-knows Dork collection turn out to be massive successes.
Ah, the big one; everyone wants this collection of Grant Morrison’s first big superhero work – Captain Clyde doesn’t really count, pedants – including the potential publishers, but the disputed rights issue seems determined to keep this as much of an impossibility as Miracleman seems to be. Nevertheless, I remain stupidly, needlessly optimistic about the possibility that one day the comics world at large will be able to see Morrison’s first attempt at a Final Crisis, treated with all the respect that it deserves, not to mention the chance to view Steve Yeowell’s evolution from “good enough” artist to one of the best artists ever to appear in 2000AD – And considering that anthology’s line-up includes Bolland, O’Neill, McMahon and Gibbons, hopefully you have an idea of how good that makes him. One big book with all of Zenith inside may be pretty much impossible right now, but let’s be honest: One of the reasons we read comics is because we all secretly believe that the impossible can happen; someone just needs to find the way to do it.