When Marvel UK shrunk its original strip output in the mid-1990s, not being a 2000AD reader, comics creator Andy Luke had nowhere to go. He came to find that the small press, often photocopied works, were a core part of British comics…
In celebration of Small Press Day on 9th July 2016, I’ve written about small press comics that I enjoyed so much.
1. The Man Who Learned To Fly – Frazer Irving
Source: TwoMorrows Publishing
Frazer Irving, of 2000AD and collaborations with Grant Morrison and others.
2. Animal Jobcentre – Ralph Kidson
3. Bloc – Oli Smith and Oliver Lambden
Source: FPI Blog
4. Terrible Sunrise – Stan Martin
Delving into the origins of World War One, Martin’s work was academic quality and detail attentive. Most recently seen in Soaring Penguin’s To End All Wars book.
5. Dumbass Comics – Neill Cameron
This anthology was brilliant fun documenting the lives of two city garbage cleaners, with a style very much like Carnell & Lanning’s Sleaze Brothers.
Neill is now an award-winning Classical Comics creator, and a hugely popular artist in The Phoenix.
6. Wargods of Atlantis by Dek Baker and Various
Dek’s Cherokee Comics imprint hosted lots of Jack Kirby-influenced artists and Wargods of Atlantis was its flagship. This page isn’t from Wargods, but the sequel to Kirby’s Omac, by Dek and frequent collaborator, David Morris.
Dek Baker returned to front Birmingham punk outfit, Drongos for Europe.
John has drawn many, many comics but this is a favourite. It’s as if Kafka, Nietzsche and Wilde teamed up to make Toy Story.
John draws the children’s section for the Dublin Echo, and continues to make small press, most recently The Familiar Shadow based on the short film L’Ombre Familiere by Maurice Pialat. You can see these on his Tumblr page.
8. In Bits – Phil Barrett
This collection of Phil’s work from www.blackshapes.com is a great place to start. Also popular, Matter and My First Festival.
9. War: The Human Cost – Various (Editor, Sean Duffield)
Source: FPI Blog, above from ‘Camp X-Ray’ by Alejandro Alverez
Absolutely jammed full of valuable work by creators across the globe. Should be multi-award nominated. You can still buy War – The Human Cost book and CD from Paper Tiger Comix at an affordable price.
10. Strange Aeons – Calum Iain MacIver
Eerie Lovecraft adaptations by MacIver retaining the sense of the originals. I really wish this Lovecraft comic was widely in print.
11. The Cattle Raid of Cooley – Paddy Brown
The epic Ulster Cycle featuring Cu Cuchulainn in 250 pages over ten years. Surely the Cerebus of Northern Irish comix? Hopefully one of the bigger publishers will approach Paddy about a collected edition soon.
12. The Jock – Rol Hirst, Nigel Lowrey and Various
Think Phonogram + 1984 set in the 1990s. The Jock ran for 27 regularly published issues, before hiatus, and then a 2000s relaunch.
13. Bulldog Adventure Magazine – Jason Cobley and Various
A great hub for UK SP art talent including Neill Cameron, Kieran Macdonald, PJ Holden, Stephen Prestwood and loads more. Captain Bulldog battles the evil Vegenation in a future Blighty.
In iconic style, it’s a little brother to Judge Dredd and MC-1, and there’s a collection of the Best of Bulldog on Amazon. Each strip was written by Cobley, who has since authored a dozen Classical Comics.
14. Coda – Clive Nolan
15. Strip for Me – Doug Noble
Strip For Me was a great anthology showcasing Doug’s deeply cinematic work, and last I checked published two decades later. Doug is a comics scholar, he’s written the second best Jarvis story ever for Marvel’s Avengers, and with Dan Goodbrey he co-created the cult webcomic The Rule of Death.
16. The Indiscriminate Device – David Baillie
One of a number of great small press available at davidbaillie.net. David has largely traded cartooning for writing these days, in 2000AD and The Megazine, and Vertigo’s popular Red Thorn series, about Scotland and magic.
17. Tales from an Unfolded Earth – Daniel Merlin Goodbrey
Goodbrey is a hyper-comics/web-comics pioneer, whose work has won acclaim from Scott McCloud, and nowadays he’s creating things with Alan Moore.
Some of his mini-comics were collected in The Last Sane Cowboy & Other Stories: Tales of an Unfolded Earth, published by AiT/Planet Lar.
Check out http://e-merl.com/morecomics/print
18. Malus – Chris Webster
Source: RuRuComix Tumblr
Webster followed up this Akira-esque tale with Wormwood in a similar happy monstrosity WTF style.
19. Space Opera – Mike Weller
A small press magnum opus in 12 parts, totalling over 500 pages. Weller created the US sleeve for Bowie’s The Man Who Sold The World and turned in strips for the infamous Oz comic. He continues to create poetry, zines and comics.
He followed up Space Opera with a comic adaptation of Beowulf, currently housed in the Southbank Centre’s Poetry Library. Check out Home Baked Books here
20. Comics by Sally Anne Hickman
Sally has produced limited edition hand-crafted collections of comic diaries. A personal favourite is ‘Have you got all your CDs and Things?’ which documents her time at the Camden Comics Mart. She’s still making her Kochalka/Dorkin style drawings, and gigging with her guitar.
• Support your local small press with comic shop events across the UK and Ireland on Saturday July 9th 2016. For more details try #smallpressday on Twitter, elsewhere on DownTheTubes.net and at smallpressday.co.uk
Andy Luke is a writer who draws. He has made comics, notably: Bottomley: Brand of Britain (with Ruairi Coleman) for the double Eisner-nominated To End All Wars anthology; Absence: a comic about epilepsy, (with Stephen Downey), winner of an UnLtd Millennium Award; and the critically acclaimed Gran: a 24 hour comic.
He’s also written widely on the form as well as co-producing NVTV’s The Invisible Artist documentary (with Carl Boyle), on Belfast’s underground comix scene. Andy has also contributed short prose tales to the anthologies 12 and Tense Situations.