X-POSITION: Phoenix, Upstarts & More Tear Up Bowers & Sims' "X-Men '92"
The winners of the 2012 British Comics Awards were announced Saturday evening at the Thought Bubble convention in Leeds. This is the first year for the awards, which were announced in January. Here’s the list of winners:
Nelson, edited by Rob Davis and Woodrow Phoenix
Bad Machinery, by John Allison
Young People’s Comic Award
Hilda and the Midnight Giant, by Luke Pearson
Hall of Fame Award
Art Barrage favorite Rob Davis has debuted the cover for his adaptation of Don Quixote Part Two. Davis’ work on the first book of Cervantes’ masterpiece was that rare treat, an adaptation that crossed from one media to another and still seemed fresh rather than redundant. This is because Davis is a creator of rare intellect and taste, with his blog being the place to see the amount of thought he puts into every project he embarks upon.
When I mention here that the U.K. is going through a Golden Age for graphic novel publishing, Davis has proven to be a key figure in its renaissance. Two of the publishers now regularly producing a steady stream of great books have worked with him, with Self Made Hero releasing these Don Quixote volumes (there’s a collected edition hitting the American market in the not-too-distant future); the ground-breaking anthology he co-edited with Woodrow Phoenix for Blank Slate Books, Nelson, would surely have won a multitude of awards this year if it had been published by one of the big U.S. indies (no, really; if you haven’t read it, click the link, look at that list of contributors, and ask yourself if it isn’t worth a punt, you won’t regret it).
More below, including another Don Quixote cover by Davis, and work by Jonathan Edwards, Rian Hughes, Etherington Brothers and more.
The concept behind Nelson is quite unique: A 43-year old tale about the life of Nel Baker, born in 1968, as told by 54 British creators, published by Blank Slate Books, in a 252-page collaborative graphic novel. (Is that enough numbers for you?) Did I mention that all profits from the book go to Shelter, the housing and homelessness charity? To mark the book’s recent release, Woodrow Phoenix (who co-edited the project with Rob Davis) took the time for a recent email interview. Once you’ve read this interview, be sure to enjoy CBR’s Mark Caldwell’s interview with Davis, as well as CSBG’s Greg Burgas explaining why he ranked this book as one of his best graphic novels of 2011.
Tim O’Shea: In the afterword for this book, you noted that there is “an invisible jigsaw in this book that you could put together if you knew where to look for the pieces. A secret history, a kind of group autobiography, comprised of memories and reflections from each of the creators of Nelson.” Did you always see the jigsaw pieces, or did the pieces reveal themselves to you as you compiled the book?
Woodrow Phoenix: Those pieces gradually made themselves apparent as we put the book together, really. Because the idea with the story was to ground it in recent history through the eyes of Nel, our protagonist, many of us used bits of our own lives. Things that we remembered, that we had seen or been told about, personal family history or items that had been in the news at the time. We based our stories on them or did ‘what if’ fictional riffs with them and Nel. You’ll notice a lot of real events are alluded to in the backgrounds of strips. There are a lot of pop music references, for instance. Before the late-1980s and cable & satellite TV, songs that were in the charts were the only music you’d hear on local or national radio and everybody had to listen to the same three or four stations because that was all there was. So they are a really good indicator of moods and styles in 1970s and 80s Britain, and most people used them for texture in their stories.
The U.K. comics scene has been heating up of late, and we can only hope that 2012 will see a British Invasion of the comics variety. The BBC has coverage of the latest development: The launch of The Phoenix, a weekly children’s comic published by David Fickling (whose David Fickling Books is an imprint of Random House). The name is apt: The Phoenix is a reprise of an earlier attempt, The DFC, which garnered a lot of praise but shut down after 43 issues. The Phoenix is launching with a nice lineup of stories and talent, including Neill Cameron, Simone Lia, Gary Northfield and Jamie Smart (who draws Desperate Dan for the long-running weekly The Dandy). Unfortunately, it’s print-only and not available digitally, so most U.S. readers won’t get to see it just yet.
Meanwhile, Strip Magazine, a monthly comic dedicated to serialized action tales, has released its second issue. Unlike The Phoenix, Strip is available digitally as an iPad app, which means we Yanks can read it, too. (I think the high point of my year was learning that The Beano and The Dandy are now available as iPad apps.)
If you’re not quite ready to let go of Christmas yet (hey, it’s supposed to be 12 days!), check out the classic British Christmas comics that Lew Stringer (another talented artist) has posted at his blog. It’s a fascinating look back in time. Dandy artist Andy Fanton posts a more modern Christmas comic (very much in the Dandy style) at his blog.
And finally, we had the U.S. release last week of Nelson, the collaborative graphic novel by 54 creators, each of whom contributed a chapter about one day in the life of a young woman. The contributors include Roger Langridge, Duncan Fegredo, Warren Pleece, Posy Simmonds and Darryl Cunningham, and publisher Blank Slate is donating the proceeds from the sale of the book to the homelessness charity Shelter.