It’s been a big couple of weeks for U.K. comics publishing, and a lot of that might have to do with this weekend’s Comica Festival (a.k.a. “the 10th London International Comics Festival”). There has been a rush of titles from British graphic novel publishers of late, no doubt timed for a big push at this most art-centric of U.K. comics conventions (it’s hosted this year at Central Saint Martins College of Arts and Design, and I dare anyone of a certain vintage to think of that place and not start humming this).
There’s a lot of great stuff out there at the minute that’s maybe not getting enough coverage internationally, so let’s do a round-up, shall we? There’s a myth that the American comics audience is insular, so let’s disprove it: These books are even already available in English, although their spelling is a bit suspect at times. Yeah, you heard me, buy a dictionary, limeys!
• The Man Who Laughs, the oddest of Victor Hugo’s novels, adapted by David Hine and Mark Stafford, published by SelfMadeHero: Hine has posted a host of panels from the book at his blog. I was previously ignorant of Stafford’s work, but these are some handsome-looking samples; they reminded me a little of the great Dave Cooper. Hine is always good value, and has a track record of making some genuinely unsettling comics (Strange Embrace, The Bulletproof Coffin), so this sounds like the perfect alignment of talent to source material.
Warren and Gary Pleece have always been brothers, but at one time, they were also creative collaborators–back in the 1980s and 1990s with Velocity. This past Friday marked a resumption of their collaboration to a certain extent, when Warren launched the new webcomic, Montague Terrace, at ACT-I-VATE. The new project (which Gary will be involved in as his schedule permits) is summed up as “Unsuccessful megalomaniacs, brain frazzled ex-pop stars, Special Ops pensioners, haunted children, writers, fighters, nervous magicians and magic bunnies. 1930s detectives, fake pet psychics, hounded inventors, randy postmen, landlocked seamen, diabolical architects and secret societies. And all under one roof…” Warren and Gary made me feel like a pop culture idiot–considering the wealth of topics they referenced in this email interview. But I was overjoyed to enter territory I knew, when Gary mentioned the Monkees’ 1968 film, Head. Tears nearly welled up in my eyes when he mentioned it (for the love of God, this film [with the likes of "Jack Nicholson, Dennis Hopper, Teri Garr ... Annette Funicello, Frank Zappa and Sonny Liston"] cries out either for the Criterion folks or the gang at Cinematic Titanic…). My thanks to Warren and Gary for a fine time.
Tim O’Shea: The last time the two of you collaborated was in the late 1980s/early 1990s–what sparked the decision for you two to collaborate again?
Warren Pleece: Montague Terrace actually showcased in the last edition of Velocity, no. 6 way back in ’96 as a place we could develop countless characters, stories and interlink them into some grand scheme. As was usually the case, the ideas were there, but the means and time to carry it off was another matter. I got more work for DC, Gary did his thing, we both started families etc. and like so many other ideas the whole thing became relegated to the cardboard boxes of our minds and Velocity 6 became the last edition we did.