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Celebrating the British Small Press: 60 Great Small Comic Press (Part Three)

When Marvel UK shrunk its original strip output in the mid-1990s, not being a 2000AD reader, I had nowhere to go. I came to find that the small press, often photocopied works, were a core part of British comics. 

This is the third and final part of my celebration of those small press titles – a look back at the last twenty years of Great British and Irish small press.

You can read Part One here and Part Two here

41. The Alchemist – edited by David Hobden

The Alchemist - edited by David Hobden

Art from The Alchemist by Peter Poole

Source: Zum Comics – The Alchemist

The Alchemist ran for fifteen issues (roughly), in the 90s, printing work by myself, Daryl Cunningham, John Miller and Peter Poole. Classy sense of design there, and felt very creator-focused.

42. More Than We Seem – Dave West, M.E. Read and Larry Beatts
More Than We Seem - Dave West, M.E. Read and Larry Beatts
MTWS was split into two or three stories, part serial, part one-offs and generally went with grey paints which were fairly lavish, and a great sense of design, which carried when Dave West became a co-founder of Accent UK.

Art for Comic Artists of the Future by Julius Howe

Art for Comic Artists of the Future by Julius Howe

43. Comic Artists of the Future – edited by Shane Chebsey

An anthology from the 90s and early 00s carried work by a constellation of artists including Dek Baker, Andy Watson, Sean Michael Wilson, Colin Matheison, as well as my own small press Review Sheet.

Shane Chebsey runs the International Comics Expo, and the FREE Shrewsbury Comic Art Festival happening this weekend.

44. Malcy Duff – Mhairi

Malcy Duff - MhairiSource: http://www.zumcomics.info/m/mhairi.html

Malcy’s comics are synaesthetic magic, and there’s plenty still available. I wanted to post from his comic, Eyeball on Windscreen, which came with a 1/2 pingpong ball eye glued to the cover. I’d gotten a box from Malcy to take to a comics fest. Imagine my surprise when I opened it and found 25 3-D eyes staring up at me!

45. The Comics of Jeremy Dennis nee DayThe Comics of Jeremy Dennis nee Day Source: http://jeremyday.org.uk

A true artist, the first print comic I got from Jeremy was named Avocado Quetzacoatl Startup Plan. That’ll get your attention.

46. Hope for the Future – Simon Perrins and inker Andrew Livesey
Hope for the Future - Simon Perrins and inker Andrew Livesey
Source: http://www.hftf.co.uk

Like Spaced, but funnier, and with a better budget? A great amount of it is online, so do check it out.

47. Hong Kong Pussy – Grave Graham Bettany
Hong Kong Pussy - Grave Graham Bettany
A contentious choice, I know, and Graham’s come under fire for his offending style over the years. I think he’s produced valuable, unique work.

There’s a good analysis of it over at Zum.

48. American Independent Feature Film – Gar Shanley and Deirdre de Barra
American Independent Feature Film - Gar Shanley and Deirdre de Barra
A marvellous parody from Shanley’s very witty Fugger blog, and with Dierdre’s art legitimised into a straighter warmer tale. Last year Dierdre collaborated on the graphic novel, Brian Boru and The Battle of Clontarf and Gar has been writing a series of quality films for the Irish Film Board.

49. Dark Ascension – Will Marshall & James Devlin
Dark Ascension - Will Marshall & James Devlin
Gripping supernatural horror/crime noir from a Glasgow couple with energetic art and a tightly told story of twist and turns. A surefire candidate for reprinting, I’d buy it in a heartbeat.

50. One Word for Everything – Deirdre Ruane
One Word for Everything - Deirdre Ruane
Source: The Black Panel/Irish Comics Wiki

One of two collections from Wasted Epiphanies, Ruane’s flights of imagination and travel are a celebration of life and love.

51. Courageous Mayhem – edited by Gar Shanley
Courageous Mayhem - edited by Gar Shanley
This, and it’ predecessor, Romantic Mayhem, are anthologies containing some great modern Irish cartoonists. While thematically satire, many strips transcend that and become invaluably universal art.

You can buy the eBook of Courageous Mayhem on Blurb.

52. Gran – Andy Luke
Gran - Andy Luke
Yes, I’m just cheeky and knowing enough to choose one of my own. It could have been Absence: a comic about epilepsy, but this first 24-hour comic is a powerful work on family, grief, life and the afterlife.

Oli Smith called it “the best comic of the year”, and FPI’s Richard Bruton called it “pure gold.

You can read the whole thing on the Internet Archive.

53. Sin – Chris Askham 

I couldn’t find a copy, however this was darkly funny, imaginative and strong in style.

Here’s a page is from Askham’s Abominable Glory.

Sin - Chris Askham

More of Chris’s comics and arts at www.chris-askham.co.uk

54. No Time Like The Present – Paul Rainey

No Time Like The Present - Paul Rainey
Source: http://pbrainey.blogspot.co.uk

Set in a world with a new type of internet which allows access to time travel, NTLTP is about a group of friends: a Whovian, a collector, an agoraphobic and a fan of dairy. It’s recently been collected by Escape Books and it’s available here on Amazon.co.uk

55. Armoured Ant – Tony Wright
Armoured Ant - Tony Wright
Source: http://wrightstuffonline.blogspot.co.uk

Originally serialised in Chebsey’s CAOF Presents, Wright’s high-octane adventure tale of a mutant ant at war in a post-apocalyptic world was an absolute thriller.

Apparently, Tony Wright jumped 70 photocopiers on his motorcycle while making it.

56. Found – Deirdre de Barra
Found - Deirdre de Barra
Source: delineavit.blogspot.co.uk

A wonderful wordless and shiny comic about people in closed spaces sending messages; poetical in quality.

57. Graphic Reviews – edited by Andy Konky Kru
Graphic Reviews - edited by Andy Konky Kru
Source: FPI Blog

Comics reviews in comics form! This wonderful concept comic featured art from some great folk in the underground but unfortunately little of it made the transition from print to digital. Perhaps more will turn up someday.

58. Yampy Tales – Lew Stringer
Yampy Tales - Lew Stringer
The legendary Lew Stringer‘s characters Combat Colin, Brickman and The Suburban Satanists featured in this late 90s series before their recent reprinting in the Brickman Begins collection, and Brickman Returns one-shot, as well as Colin’s appearances in Aces Weekly.

59. The Tempest – Garen Ewing
The Tempest - Garen Ewing
Hands up, I’ve not read this, but it’s waiting for me, in a storage box, somewhere!

The acclaim for this upon release was massive and fans of the Rainbow Orchid creator still mention it from time to time.

60. The Plot Thickens – Gavin Burrows
Gavin Burrows - The Plot Thickens
Source: http://buzzcomic.com/Artists?contact_id=215

Gavin’s reviews, articles and analysis have been a fixture of amateur press a while, in his Lucid Frenzy zine and current blogspot. However his deft skill as a storyteller is unmatched, opening the doors for him to work with talented artists such as Simon Gane, Adrian Stapleton, Claudio Parentela, Martin Meeks, Mikal Dyas, Rob Wells and Mark Stafford.

By my last estimates, there are two small press comics published in print each day in the UK. So it may take a while to find the best of them. However, most of them are quite good, and the underground section at your local shop or comics fest will almost certainly produce the professionals of tomorrow.

• Celebrating the British Small Press: 60 Great Small Comic Press – Part One

• Celebrating the British Small Press: 60 Great Small Comic Press – Part Two

• Celebrating the British Small Press: 60 Great Small Comic Press – Part Three

About Andrew Luke

Andy Luke is the creator of acclaimed comics Gran, and Absence. His debut novel, Axel America, is available to pre-order next week and is released from AG Publishings on September 5th, 2016.
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