Comics laureate

Photograph: DC Comics

Photograph: DC Comics

From The Bookseller:

Graphic novelist Dave Gibbons is to become the UK’s first comics laureate.

Gibbons was appointed at the launch of new charity Comics Literacy Awareness (CLAw) at the Lakes International Comic Art Festival on Friday 17th October, by graphic novelist Scott McCloud.

The title of comics laureate will be appointed biennially to a distinguished comics writer or artist in recognition of their outstanding achievement in the field. Their role is to champion children’s literacy through school visits, training events for school staff and education conferences.

Gibbons has won praise for his comics and graphic novel work for Marvel and DC Comics, including Watchmen (with Alan Moore), 2000AD and Doctor Who.

He said: “It’s a great honour for me to be nominated as the first comics laureate. I intend to do all that I can to promote the acceptance of comics in schools. It’s vitally important not only for the pupils but for the industry too.”

Gibbons will take up his two-year position from February 2015.

And by way of follow up, the Guardian has a curious piece by David Barnett entitled:

Five must-read graphic novels that prove comics are worthy of a laureate

My immediate reaction was to query the number? Why only five? If anything, it sets off the cynic in me to suggest that the writer couldn’t find five more decent comics to make up a top ten. This is not to say there is a shortage of quality comics (aka graphic novels) – there isn’t – but even a dabbler in the field like me could come up with a chunky list that would challenge several of those on that list of five.

Check out the piece here, noting that the comments give a decent spread of contenders for the list as well. So, you may pick up recommendations for a life’s worth of reading.

Looking back at Roy

Source: Seb Patrick/Wikimedia

Diagram showing all the home kits worn by Melchester Rovers in the comic strip Roy of the Rovers, with the year that each was first seen in the pages of the strip. Source: Seb Patrick/Wikimedia

I was never a fanatical Roy of the Rovers fan, even when I was avidly devouring comics. But if the comic were available, I would read it. So, it’s not for lack of exposure. But despite my disinterest, I know the comic had a devoted following and it is still, often, referenced in a loving manner.

This year marks the 60th anniversary of Roy’s first appearance. For a nostalgic look back at Roy of the Rovers, check out this pictorial Guardian piece.

World’s first comic?

From the Herald:

The Glasgow Looking Glass was the world’s first comic book, first printed 188 years ago.

It took centre stage at last week’s International Graphic Novel and International Bande Dessinee Society (IBDS) joint conference at Glasgow University.

For seven years, the original first edition had been under lock and key in the Glasgow offices of the venerable printing firm that produced it, John Watson & Co, after being stumbled upon at the Barras Market. Now the company has decided to present a copy to the university.

John Watson OBE, the company’s chairman and chief executive, said: “It’s on newsprint, about A3 size, almost like a tabloid format.

“A lot of people have said it is like Private Eye. The content was in its way much like Private Eye’s – it was always taking a slant at the councillors and politicians of the day, and at contemporary events.

“The first edition was printed in black and white but colour was added later in the 19th century.”

According to Joe Fisher’s Glasgow Encyclopedia, The Glasgow Looking Glass was unique among the city’s periodicals at that time.

It was, says Fisher, a “lavishly illustrated satirical magazine published fortnightly in the form of a four-page lithographically produced broadsheet”.

The magazine was the work of English draughtsman William Heath (1795-1840), who had arrived in Glasgow to paint some large panoramas, as was fashionable at the time.

Fisher said Heath depicted items of current Scottish, English and European news along with “graphic illustrations of the manners, fashions, politics and eccentricities of all levels of Glasgow society”.

Many of his illustrations give an account of the appearance of Glasgow almost 200 years ago, including “douce Glasgow folk” at play in the Clyde.

The comic is believed to have run to 18 editions issued at fortnightly intervals between June 1825 and June 1826.

After just five editions, the title was changed to The Northern Looking Glass to reflect subjects of a wider national interest.

Dr Laurence Grove, director of the Stirling Maxwell Centre at Glasgow University, said up to 100,000 copies of the periodical were distributed around public houses in Glasgow and beyond.

Comical links

From the Economist Special Christmas Double Issue:

Triumph of the nerds

The internet has unleashed a burst of cartooning creativity

IN 1989 Bill Watterson, the writer of “Calvin and Hobbes”, a brilliant comic strip about a six-year-old child and his stuffed tiger, denounced his industry. In a searing lecture, he attacked bland, predictable comics, churned out by profit-driven syndicates. Cartooning, said Mr Watterson, “will never be more than a cheap, brainless commodity until it is published differently.”

In 2012 he is finally getting his way. As the newspaper industry continues its decline, the funnies pages have decoupled from print. Instead of working for huge syndicates, or for censored newspapers with touchy editors, cartoonists are now free to create whatever they want. Whether it is cutting satire about Chinese politics, or a simple joke about being a dog, everything can win an audience on the internet.

The article is here  – behind a paywall, unfortunately. The strange thing is that the article does a good overview of what is out there in the online comic world (though I know there are omissions) but fails to provide a single link. I assume it is policy. Anyway, I have hunted down the various comics mentioned and set out the links below. If you are at all interested in comics or cartoons, you should find at least one site to bookmark, if not more.  And I have added a couple of other links for your consideration. One is the link to the most obvious omission from the article, the world famous Dandy, now well and truly disappeared from brick and mortar stores, but firmly established online. The other is to a personal favorite of mine: Aces Weekly.What else is there to say? Enjoy!

Try these as well: