“I think early on I decided rightly or wrongly that comics sort of froze up as an artistic medium approximately with the advent of sound motion pictures in 1930s and 1940s. The genre in America solidified into this kind of adventure storytelling, and it wasn’t until the 1960s, with cartoonists like Robert Crumb and Kim Deitch and Art Spiegelman, that they reinvented comics as a medium for actual human self-expression. There are other ways of getting at a sense of reality that had more to do with comics than the idea of a camera. Because comics are an inwardly turned thing. It’s really a way of getting your memories out on the page. It’s almost a way of making dreams real.”
Meanwhile the Herald decided to really spoil comics readers by also having another feature this weekend, “The Second Coming of Graphic Novels“. The article discusses the short-lived graphic novel boom that followed the likes of The Dark Knight Returns and Watchmen, which then, as it correctly observes, lead some to think we were in a new age of acceptance for the medium beyond its normal readership, only to see the bubble burst because, simply, there wasn’t enough high quality material being published to sustain that interest level. But what of now, the article muses? I think we’ve all felt we’re in a new age of comics at the moment, with more new, talented creators coming through, most especially from the Indy side and being able to get their work noticed, both in the comics sphere but also in the wider literary world, with non comics readers picking some of them up, mainstream broadsheets reviewing graphic novels regularly and major literary festivals including them in their programmes.
(a page from Blank Slate’s brilliant Nelson, one of the UK published titles that is singled out as marking a shift in the type and quality of comics work being out out in Britian today)
I think we’ve felt that particularly here in the UK – not that we’ve had a better time of it than in other countries, but I think we’ve struggled away for so long and in the last few years there’s been a real feeling of gaining some serious traction. We’ve had publishers like Nobrow, Blank Slate, Knockabout and SelfMadeHero putting out great books we want to read by talented creators, from autobiographical to literary adaptations to translated work from Europe and more, this new wave of UK Indy comics publishing bridging the gap between the established such as Jonathan Cape, who have flown the flag in the literary world for years, and the vibrant self published scene we have here. The article talks to some of those publishers, such as Cape’s Dan Franklin, SMH’s Emma and our own and Blank Slate Grande Fromage Kenny Penman. While all have some reservations about a second ‘golden age’ the overall tone is positive and the entire article has a refreshing and welcome view not just of the improving scene of comics for adult readers but of the quality and diversity coming out of UK publishers right now, which is great to see in the mainstream press.