Award-winning author and artist Bryan Talbot has announced the fantastic news that he has completed his script for a third Luther Arkwright book, and begun drawing it, with the aim of seeing it published in 2022.
The Legend of Luther Arkwright will be published by Jonathan Cape in the UK and Dark Horse Books in the United States, continuing between the story that has been a huge influence on steampunk and beyond, first published in the 1970s.
Working in the comics medium for over 30 years, Bryan Talbot’s stories have been published in over 20 countries and he is the winner of many comic awards – including an Eisner award, the Prix SNCF and several Eagles.
Recognised as one of the most influential British comic artists, ever, he’s produced underground and alternative comics, notably Brainstorm! and Near Myths, and drawn strips featuring characters such as 2000AD‘s Judge Dredd and Nemesis the Warlock, working in the US on titles as diverse as Teknophage, The Nazz and Batman: Legends of the Dark Knight, as well as DC Vertigo titles including Hellblazer, Sandman, The Dreaming and Fables.
He is perhaps best known, however, as both author and artist on his creator-owned projects, including The Adventures of Luther Arkwright, Heart of Empire, The Tale of One Bad Rat, Alice in Sunderland, Metronome (as “Veronique Tanaka”), the brilliant steampunk detective saga, Grandville – and Dotter of Her Father’s Eyes, written by his wife, Mary, which won the Costa Biography Award in 2013.
Following on from other projects such as The Red Virgin and the Vision of Utopia, Bryan and Mary have recently been working together on a new graphic novel, Rain, which will get its launch at the Lakes International Comic Art Festival in October, a chronicle of the growing relationship of two young women, one an environmental activist, set against the backdrop of the disastrous 2015 floods in northern England.
The wild Brontë moorlands are being criminally mismanaged as crops are being poisoned, and birds and animals are being slaughtered. While the characters are fictional, the tragedy is shockingly real.
Bryan’s first retro futurist tale about the multiverse-travelling character, The Adventures of Luther Arkwright, is considered by many to be the first British graphic novel. It was first serialised in the adult SF comic Near Myths from October 1978, the same month that A Contract with God by Will Eisner, considered to be the first US graphic novel, was published. The first collected volume appeared in 1982.
The second Arkwright graphic novel, Heart Of Empire, was published in 2001. Both books have been in continual print since they were first published.
Praised by many writers and artists, such as Alan Moore, Neil Gaiman, Jean Giroud (Moebius), Michael Moorcock and Iain Banks, the ground-breaking, experimental adult SF story was a seminal work and inspired and influenced many comic creators including Garth Ennis, Rick Veitch and Warren Ellis, winning four Eagle Awards and the Society of Strip Illustration Award for Best Graphic Novel.
The subject of role-playing games and a three-hour audio drama in 2004, featuring David Tennant as Luther Arkwright, it is frequently cited as an all-time favourite graphic novel by its readers.
Like the first two books, The Legend of Luther Arkwright, to be released nearly 20 years after the last one, contains a strong anti-fascist theme. The first book, appearing against the background of the rise of the British extreme right, with the coming-to-power of the Thatcher Government and the National Front marching on the streets, was a forerunner of V for Vendetta. At the time, Talbot was doing voluntary illustrative work for his local Anti-Nazi League Group. Now, with the extreme right on the rise again, all over the world, the timing of the book is especially pertinent.
Heart of Empire was not just a repetition of The Adventures of Luther Arkwright, but a different kind of adventure, told in a different style. The Legend of Luther Arkwright, another stand-alone story, continues this tradition, while still maintaining continuity with the Arkwright mythos.
The Legend of Luther Arkwright, a 220-page hardback black and white graphic novel, is set 51 years after the events of Heart of Empire and takes place on several very different parallel worlds, though Arkwright, being a homo novus, looks not a day older.
In addition to the new adventure, the previous two books, currently available as a lavish 550-page hardback Arkwright Integral version from Dark Horse, will be republished next year in a trade paperback omnibus edition, minus all the extra material contained in the Integral.
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