Tuesday, 29 April 2014

COMICS UNMASKED: ART AND ANARCHY IN THE UK



The British Library is about to open its huge exhibition of British comics, COMICS UNMASKED: ART AND ANARCHY IN THE UK. I was surprised and pleased to hear from co-curator Paul Gravett that it will include pages from RIOT, a comic strip by myself and my partner Vikki Liogier, published way back in 1981. I met Vikki the previous year when she was visiting the UK from France and we have been together ever since. At the time I was living in a squat in Brixton and for Vikki it was an eye-opening experience. Looking back now, it’s hard to picture just how grey and miserable a place London was in the 1980’s. Brixton was a particularly impoverished and run-down part of the UK and the conditions were ripe for the riots that finally kicked off in 1981 after the police operation Swamp 81. The police were enforcing the notorious ‘Sus’ laws, which allowed them to stop, search, arrest and even imprison people they suspected of intending to commit a crime. This was effectively Thought Crime and at its peak the police used it to stop and search over 1,000 people in Brixton in 5 days.  There were also constant 'drug raids' and for a while we would be woken nightly (usually between 3am and 5am) by vanloads of police with dogs raiding houses, rousting the occupants and lining them up against the wall in the street outside our squat. When the riots came it was no surprise.

The police force in Britain today is widely recognized to be riddled with racism, but believe me, its nothing compared to the police of the 1970's and 1980’s who were corrupt, brutal and racist to the core. We both wanted to express our own outrage for the way the police were behaving and the result was RIOT, written by Vikki and drawn by myself. I had already had a strip published in KNOCKABOUT COMICS, the wonderful anthology published by Tony and Carol Bennett’s publishing house, so I took this one straight to them. I remember Tony being a little doubtful about the fundamentally ‘decent cop’ who is driven by shame at his own behaviour to resign from the police force. It’s true that the existence of that decent cop did stretch the imagination a little, but it made for a better story and Tony ran the strip in the pages of Knockabout #3.

Vikki and I are still together and that strip means a lot to us. We’ll be at the reception on Thursday evening, when Jonathan Ross will be guest speaker. It marks a huge sea change in the perception of comics that such a venerable institution as the British Library is not only featuring an exhibition of comics, but focusing on the radical, underground, subversive side of British Comics. “Baroness Blackstone requests the pleasure of your company…” Bloody hell!

Poster by Jamie Hewlett
It’s worth noting perhaps, that we no longer have much in the way of radical comics like Knockabout, Nasty Tales or even Crisis in this country. Angry young cartoonists seem to have been replaced by the ‘slightly irritated’ and ‘mildly annoyed’ and the most revolutionary or radical aspects of the alternative and independent comics I see around now are the printing techniques and marketing strategy. We do still have the occasional riot though…


Art by Jamie Hewlett

Here's the blurb from the British Library web site:

Comics Unmasked is the UK’s largest ever exhibition of mainstream and underground comics, showcasing works that uncompromisingly address politics, gender, violence, sexuality and altered states. It explores the full anarchic range of the medium with works that challenge categorisation, preconceptions and the status quo, alongside original scripts, preparatory sketches and final artwork that demystify the creative process.
Enter the subversive and revelatory world of comics, from the earliest pioneers to today’s digital innovators.

Ticketprices and visitor information

Sunday, 20 April 2014

Storm Dogs - French Edition

Storm Dogs is now available in France in a new beautifully-designed hardback edition from Delcourt.




Thursday, 10 April 2014

Sci-Fi Scarborough

Sci-Fi Scarborough (last weekend at the Scarborough Spa Complex) is a new addition to the smorgasborg of comics/fantasy/sci-fi/book/pop culture festivals that are popping up with increasing frequency all over the UK. I met co-organiser Andy Harness last year and he kindly invited me along as a guest. While the presence of comic book creators was low-key, the punters were friendly and curious. This was a new venture for Scarborough and some of the public were initially quite bemused by the whole thing, but also clearly enjoying it immensely. There was an eclectic mix of entertainment with music provided by an orchestra of local young people, the Easy Concert Band, playing themes from sci-fi movies, an enthusiastic bunch of cosplayers including some unusual couples (male and female Daleks and an Alien and Predator who appeared to be very much in love and keen to promote inter-species relationships) and Colin ("I AM the Doctor!") Baker and the stars of Red Dwarf hamming it up hilariously on stage. It was quite unlike any festival I've been to.

The venue is superb - an old Victorian spa yards from Scarborough's famous beach. Two bars and licensed café open all day as well as a very decent fast food restaurant provided non-stop sustenance. Outside on the Sun Court there were indie bands from the YCC Underground Music Institute playing all day on both Saturday and Sunday and on Saturday evening there was music at three locations throughout the venue. I spent a great evening with fellow-guest Gary Erskine enjoying indie bands No Warning and Jack's Idea on the Fritz Lang stage, followed by DJs Cardboard Cyborg in Farrers Bar and then the amazing Craig Charles in the Grand Hall with his superb Funk and Soul Club.

Here are a few photos to give you a taste of the event. I recommend that you check this out next year. It can only get bigger.

















Wednesday, 9 April 2014

Night Of The Living Dead - New Collection

Night Of The Living Dead: Aftermath Volume 2 is now available from Avatar, at your comic book store or on Amazon USA or Amazon UK

Cover by Jacen Burrows - Interior art by Tomas Aira

PRODUCT DESCRIPTION:  The hedonistic late 1970s is the perfect backdrop for the next evolution in the classic Night of the Living Dead series!  DAVID HINE continues a horrifyingly original take on the zombie menace as the virus spreads through Las Vegas leaving it a city of the dead.  As a group of unlikely survivors flee east, they encounter something more sinister even than the reanimated corpses that seem intent on finding and dining upon the ragtag refugees.  For locked away in a secure military facility they discover that true horror is bred by the living much more efficiently than the dead.   But hidden within the misery is the unthinkable…an anomaly that could lead to a zombie vaccine.  This collection includes issues #7 – 12 of the Night of the Living Dead: Aftermath series.