Comic artist John Higgins has designed a set of six new stamps commemorating the 350th anniversary of the Great Fire of London.
The project as a whole is the work of The Chase Creative Consultants, and the stamps are designed to appeal to a younger audience.
London’s streets and the River Thames divide the Great Fire of London stamps into graphic novel style panels, adding a sense of place as the drama and panic of the story unfolds.
— Royal Mail Stamps (@RoyalMailStamps) September 2, 2016
Starting in Pudding Lane, the Great Fire (which is being documented day by day on http://greatfireoflondon.net) raged across the city from 2nd to 5th September 1666, destroying more than 13,000 houses and 87 churches. It took hold rapidly, after a hot summer in a city where narrow streets divided many wooden buildings.
To mark the anniversary, a huge model sculpture of London’s skyline in 1666 will also be set alight this Sunday on the River Thames this weekend, featuring around 190 miniature buildings, including churches and factories making up a model of 17th century London. The event – part of the work of the London 1666 project – will be broadcast live online.
John’s many comic credits include his own characters such as Razorjack, and Judge Dredd and Greysuit for 2000AD.
His involvement in this stamp project for the Royal Mail caught his many fans by surprise, but, John, who is really pleased to have been part of the project says “I was sworn to secrecy, I could only tell people once I had killed them!
“The presentation packs are brilliant,” he commented. “Royal Mail know how package their product.”
“The Great Fire of London is actually part of school curriculum this year, so Royal Mail were keen to produce a set that would appeal to a slightly younger audience,” explained creative director at The Chase, Richard Scholey to Design Week.
“Graphic novels were discussed during the initial chats but then we were given the flexibility to take it from there. “John Higgins uses strong black line work which he then fills in. When we looked at different artists, his seemed to retain that detail on a small scale.
“The way he treats lighting also works really well. The fire does create a very specific dramatic look, and he was very good at capturing that.”
“Despite the terrible devastation caused by the Great Fire, it provided the opportunity for the regeneration of large swathes of the city and shaped the London we know today,” notes Philip Parker, from Royal Mail.
“It was the catalyst of the building of iconic landmarks such as St Paul’s Cathedral and dozens of parish churches.
“It is fitting that we mark the anniversary of the fire with an innovative set of stamps that re-imagine the events.”
• The stamps are available from royalmail.com and 8,000 Post Office branches
• John Higgins official web site: www.turmoilcolour.com
• The Great Fire is being documented day by day on http://greatfireoflondon.net
• “Watch it Burn” will be broadcast live online, presented by Lauren Lavern, and directed by Tim van Someren. Designed by American artist David Best, the London 1666 installation is part London’s Burning, a festival of arts produced by Artichoke. The London 1666 project has involved months of work with young people across several London boroughs with workshops, placements and volunteering opportunities into the construction and creative industries. More information on Great Fire related events here
Art copyright Royal Mail