Tom Strong is a comic for those who love adventure stories. Or sci-fi. Or pulp characters. Or ace women heroes. Or space sagas. Or future tales. Or family stories. Heck, Tom Strong is for everyone!
Now as part of Vertigo’s stunningly impressive 2013 line-up, tomorrow sees the publication of #1 of a brand new Tom Strong miniseries: Tom Strong and the Planet of Peril.
I caught up with writer Peter Hogan to chat about his new series, the move from America’s Best Comics to Vertigo, and just why Tom Strong is so appealing. Many thanks to Peter for his time, and I’m keeping my fingers crossed that Tom Strong and the Teens From Tomorrow is up next!
In the world of British comic creators, one name looms large: Alan Moore, creator of Watchmen and commander of The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen. An iconic figure, who weaves tales of Lovecraftian woe and shuns the superhero genre, Moore has built a dedicated readership around himself yet unexpectedly appeals to a far wider audience than a typical comics creator might hope for. But this is not a recent breakthrough.
In the early Eighties, Moore was determined to bring a woman-led story to the sci-fi anthology comic, 2000AD. The Ballad of Halo Jones was to be the story of an ordinary woman, not a superhero or special snowflake, but a woman who made her own story. 2000AD was already known for its subversion of heroes, but a whole strip starring a woman in a medium apparently dominated by men was a brave move. Moore was striving for a character that represented the everywoman, as opposed to the more common women in comics that often appeared half naked, or as an adornment to a male hero.
For the new reader of the cult 2000 AD strip, Arthur C Clarke Award-winning author Lauren Beukes sums up the essence of Halo Jones in the foreword; a woman who is not a superhero or a princess, a girl born into the working class with no great aspirations.
It’s the story of an ordinary young woman who decides to put herself out into the bigger universe and struggles with the consequences. It’s one of the bravest stories 2000 AD ever told, collected in this new deluxe hardcover.
A spoiler-free personal review of the latest League of Extraordinary Gentlemen book, the graphic novella Nemo: Heart of Ice.
I say personal as it was near impossible for me to put aside my prior feelings when it came to reading this comic, and yet I felt compelled to review it in some manner after racing my way through it in a thoroughly enjoyable manner.
(Hit the jump for the full review!)
Over the last few weeks, my good friend Pádraig Ó Méalóid has been writing a series of articles on The Beat about Alan Moore and Superfolks, which became an edgeways look at the long running friction between Moore and fellow writer, Grant Morrison. While Moore has previously spoken out about his thoughts on Morrison in various interviews, Morrison has generally kept quiet on the issue. There have been occasional barbs of course, and plenty of praise, but very little on the actual facts of the matter.
The popularity of the articles suggested that there is a demand for such information however, and many of the comments certainly demonstrated a lack of adequate knowledge of the facts. Now who could possibly shine a light on this topic…? Ah, hang on, I know just the fella.
Over on The Beat then, I've re-mixed Part 3 of the original series, which focused on the relationship between Moore and Morrison, with Grant Morrison's own thoughts on the matter. So go and have a read, while I retreat to my bunker!
My review of the just published League of Extraordinary Gentlemen: Century 2009, by Alan Moore and Kevin O'Neill, is published in today's Independent on Sunday in the lead slot. I've had the (only) review copy for nearly a month now and have resisted looking too smug about that rather well.
The Independent on Sunday has also run a news article about the comic, and one of its more controversial aspects, in the news section. It contains a quote by me, and I've included my full quote below for those interested, written for a mainstream audience.
Our new adventure begins with Orlando fighting once more in an unending war, this time in the Middle East's Q'umar. Our trio has failed to stop the birth of the Antichrist and their union has fractured. A televised news report ponders whether we are returning to an era of spin, resulting in a furiously foul-mouthed tirade from one Malcolm Tucker. As with the opera of 1910 and the cinematic references of 1969, the world of the League is open to all fiction, not only literature, and mentions of Hollywood stars and famous footballers can be found with a keen eye. References to previous instalments show the grand scale of Moore's meticulous planning.
Weaving together Britain's mythic dreamtime into one glorious creative tapestry, this latest percipient adventure is a thrilling ride.
The news story can be found here: Revealed: Harry Potter is the Antichrist!
And my full quote:
Alan Moore is perhaps the greatest comic writer of our time, changing superheroes forever with his genre-breaking Watchmen, altering the face of protests the world over with V for Vendetta, and famous too for his rare stance on film adaptations of his many works: a polite distancing based on personal disinterest. Having turned his back on the US comic publishers and their often questionable approach to creators rights, Moore found a happier home with Knockabout Comics and Top Shelf, where he has cheerfully produced a series of League of Extraordinary Gentlemen graphic novels that have outsold almost every other comic on the market.
From the late 19th century, the series has shown us a parallel world to our own, one in which our fictions are reality, where Captain Nemo and Professor Moriarty shape England's history. Moving events now to 2009, that fiction expands to encompass The West Wing, 24, and of course a certain boy wizard. Moore is always keen to point out that the League books are satire and that he has respect for all characters that he uses and hints at, expressing hope that people will look beyond the Harry Potter connection to appreciate the whole. He and artist Kevin O'Neill have layered several other fictions on top of the character who may (or may not!) be JK Rowling's creation, with nods towards Platform 13, Groosham Grange, and The Dark is Rising, predecessors all to the Boy Who Lived.
Make no mistake, the wily Moore is in no way making a statement on one character by his crafting of the ultimate bad guy in his series to date, rather his chosen Antichrist is a commentary on a perceived degradation of society, both in our world and the fictional. As the publishing industry takes less risks, originality is visibly dwindling, while major franchises and celebrity biographies are relentlessly pushed upon us. When the Antichrist comes face to face with the one character who can terminate his domination, it's difficult not to feel a swell of love for the old books that we all hold dear. People will perhaps be keen to paint this as a curmudgeonly assault on the popular Harry Potter, painting him as an evil abomination that has corrupted our children and heralded the death knell of children's fiction, but that is a shallow reading of a complex series that delights in layering meanings and references in the playground of our imagination.