The new issue of SciFiNow magazine (#87) features a rather fabulous four page spread for my interview with the Young Avengers creators, Kieron Gillen and Jamie McKelvie.
We talk diverse characters, editorial freedom, the upcoming end of year party, and the dynamic duo's close collaboration. Plus lots of that lovely McKelvie art, and a character breakdown of the team.
Earlier this year, Soaring Penguin Press published the first complete English translation of Régis Loisel’s classic French series of bande dessinée, Peter Pan, a dark prequel to the JM Barrie fairy tale that pushes the boundaries of Neverland’s sinister origins.
Loisel’s magnum opus, six volumes long and published from 1990 to 2004, is clad now in green crocodile skin print with tiny Tinker Bell flying across the cover leaving a trail of pixie dust in her wake.
A very adult tale, this Peter Pan has won critical acclaim and fame in native France where Loisel’s Clochette – Tinker Bell – is as familiar a sight as the Disney starlet. Yet with its arrival on our shores many UK reviewers were left shocked by the sexual and vulgar content – most notably perhaps by Tinker Bell’s voluptuous appearance, and Peter’s insults towards her in the first chapter – “bitch!” “slut!”.
But this prequel to JM Barrie’s classic, to the play and to the Disney animated feature, is perfectly in keeping with all of its predecessors – the final line from Barrie is after all the sinister, “and thus it will go on, so long as children are gay and innocent and heartless.” By taking the subtext out of the shadows and into the spotlight, Loisel’s Peter Pan is infinitely more enjoyable.
A few recent reviews of mine, coincidentally all animal themed! Featuring the third in the animal rights action comic Liberator by Matt Miner and Javier Aranda, the all ages kickstarted A Piggy's Tale by Tod Emko and Ethan Young, and the wonderful Astrodog by Paul Harrison-Davies.
A striking cover from the tremendous Ben Templesmith has garnered Liberator #3 all kinds of attention. If you’ve not been reading this fantastic debut, read on…
...I enjoy stories with unreliable narrators as you’re never quite sure what is about to unravel next, and it gives earlier sequences a whole new dimension. It works well with this tightly plotted book, with connecting scenes rather than your typically linear storytelling, and the dual narrative introduced in #3 is very intriguing.
A loveable pup, a street smart cat, and a magical pig – here is a comic that really grabbed my attention!
...But what really seals the deal, from both Emko and Young, is the real heart that has been put into each character. With very little exposition or long screeds of narration or dialogue, these are characters that the reader immediately knows and loves.
Of the many comics I picked up at the recent Lakes International Comic Art Festival, there was one comic in particular that caught my eye as I turned around one of those giant rooms. A small little book, nestled amongst publishers large and booming, that shone out with a cover that immediately made me smile: Astrodog.
Seeing that I had tuned out the rest of the world in those thirty seconds, my boyfriend knowingly weighed himself down with my bags while I went for a closer look. I had not seen Astrodog before, I had missed itsprevious outing in webcomic form at the hands of creator Paul Harrison-Davies, and the glorious colours jostling upon the pages called to mind an old favourite of mine with a similar, yet completely different premise: Hendrik Dorgathen’s Space Dog.
A new piece up on The Guardian, where I have a chat with superb creators Posy Simmonds, Katie Green, Isabel Greenberg, and Kate Charlesworth ahead of this weekend's Lakes International Comic Art Festival in Kendal.
We look at why they picked the comics medium, the subversive and communicative powers of comics, and how things have changed - and remained the same - for women creators across the decades.
Long-time Guardian favourite and multiple award-winner Posy Simmonds is one such guest, a prolific artist who has been drawing comics since she was a little girl. Her collection last year, Mrs Weber's Omnibus, brought together her long-running strips for the Guardian about a well-meaning middle-class family.
"As a child," Simmonds tells me, "I liked the combination of words and pictures - in bound copies of Punch magazines and, later, in the piles of comics some American kids used to give me. There was also something subversive about comics that appealed - adults didn't approve of them."
A long-form interview with the lovely Howard Hardiman, creator of the recently collected The Lengths - a controversial and important comic about male escorts, told with canine characters.
Howard's answers were simply far too interesting for me to worry about distracting from, so I went with a Q&A format for maximum ease of reading. A very fascinating interview, and a book that I highly recommend reading.
"One of the funniest responses to reading it came from someone working in the sex industry, who said “you let straight people read this?” because he’d become so used to secrecy.
"Other than that, though, the response has been reassuringly positive. I waited almost five years between the interviews and making the book because I needed to have a distance from telling too much that could have identified people, especially given that I’d been told a lot of things that could have resulted in them having trouble with the police or the inland revenue!"
I'm really pleased with this great interview with the lovely Mary Talbot, published in today's Independent on Sunday.
Mary, along with husband and UK comics legend Bryan Talbot, made headlines earlier this year when her debut graphic novel, Dotter of Her Father's Eyes, won a prestigious Costa award. We had a long chat in the sun about that win, how she came about entering the world of comics, and her upcoming second graphic novel and brand new comics festival.
“It was a medium of expression that I was very much aware of on a daily basis,” she explains. “I mean, I’ve been watching Bryan create and been part of the process to some extent, in terms of reading his drafts and scripts, looking at pages as they form on the page, very often commenting on them. I’ve never participated before, fully, but I’ve been to some extent involved. I must have soaked up quite a bit of it!”
Making the transition into working in comics herself was perhaps, then, a natural step. “The whole thing started off as a suggestion from Bryan,” Mary explains. “Would I consider writing an autobiographical graphic novel? That was the starting point. I was uncomfortable with the idea, because I didn’t think it would have legs.”
Though she modestly thought no one would be interested in her upbringing, Bryan assured her that her story was both unique and compelling. Her father, the Joycean scholar James S Atherton, has cast a long shadow upon Mary’s life, which naturally suggested a link to James Joyce himself. Aware that the Ulysses author had a daughter, Mary began to see how her own story could be intertwined into something larger.