Milligan & McCarthy’s ‘Summer of Love’ — a little comics archeology
In the U.K. in 1987, right at the height of the Reagan/Thatcher era of populist conservatism, a group of former members of the left-wing think tank Big Flame somehow decided it was a good time to launch a new, staunchly socialist, tabloid Sunday newspaper. The mistakes made at The News on Sunday may have gone down in legend among Britain’s journalists, but history will give them credit for one thing: Somebody there had great taste in comics.
The paper featured two strips by two creative teams from two classic runs in 2000AD, producing work that was almost identical in nature to what was being commissioned by that era’s Tharg, Steve MacManus. Fresh from their work on Slaine, Pat Mills and Glenn Fabry originated the strip “Scatha,” another Celtic-themed slice of sword and sorcery (the strip was featured by the Bear Alley blog way back in 2008). Pete Milligan and Brendan McCarthy, just off 2000AD‘s “Sooner or Later,” came up with “Summer of Love,” a similar mix of social commentary, puns, quips and surrealism.
In January, I posted at Bad Librarianship the two examples of the strip I could find while trawling the net, and casually challenged my readership to send me any more they may have come across. Soon enough, two seemingly complete sets turned up in my inbox. The strip is far from Milligan and McCarthy’s greatest work, but even a minor work by a team in the middle of a legendary hot streak is worth studying. And of course, it’s beautiful to look at.
Apparently there’s an eighth unpublished episode languishing in existence somewhere. Sean Phillips claimed to have seen it, and even narrowly missed out on buying it. I don’t suppose anyone out there knows of its whereabouts?