The Really Heavy Greatcoat is a cartoon strip created by John Freeman and Nick Miller revolving around a sentient Greatcoat and its owner(s). The strip began in 1987 and first ran in the Lancaster UK listings magazines On the Beat and Off the Beat, online on virtual-lancaster.net and an archive of the strips feature on Tapastic.
In 2015, Nick Miller revived the strip as The RHG using the Tapastic platform and you can read these new, mobile-friendly adventures here.
Comics-inspired Really Heavy Greatcoat strips were also published in the acclaimed comics magazine Comics International, and subsequently re-published on downthetubes.
The strip mixes straightforward craziness concerning greatcoats with deep pockets and the regular digs at both national, international and, in the past, Lancaster politics and events. It could easily be adapted for any newspaper or magazine publication interested in tales of relationships with a heavy slice of weirdness. It is available for syndication and licensing.
WHAT THE CRITICS SAY…
“The Really Heavy Greatcoat by John Freeman and Nick Miller hearkens back to the newspaper strips of old, rich on both warmth and character. Where this comes into its own however, is that Freeman’s sci-fi sensibilities mix in, thereby giving it a unique, surreal identity.”
Chris Bunting, Comics International
Greatcoat \Great”coat”\ (?), n. An overcoat.
greatcoat n : a heavy coat [syn: overcoat, surcoat, topcoat]
KEVIN became the current owner of the greatcoat some time ago. A student who rented the attic room in John and Jo’s house, he’s studying history and politics, taking a free ninth in Modern Art at University but recently moved into the house next door with Alex after its owner (who turned out to be the Greatcoat) sold it to John and Jo.
Kevin seems jaded, if not bemused, by current student ways and seeks to rediscover what pre-Thatcher students got up to, like his parents. Unfortunately the only thing that can tell him is the Greatcoat, and his ideas of life are weird…
THE GREATCOAT claims to be the reincarnation of a fifteenth century doublet and hose. It has certainly had a long life, surviving the Napoleonic War (greatcoats kept a trooper warm when he had static duty), the American Civil War, the First World War, and behaving with some distinction as an Air Raid Patrol greatcoat in the Second World War*.
That’s a lot of wars, which might explain why, when he acheived sentience (and the reasons for that vary depending on what story it can remember), its politics have a distinctly radical streak ill-placed in today’s squeaky-clean New Labour Britain. Not that the greatcoat cares what Tony Blair thinks about him, of course.
Since its adventures in the late 1980s and early 1990s, the Greatcoat was left on a coat stand in the attic room for a number of years. It became extremely bored and a new owner was a welcome relief. It still has extra-dimensional pockets and can time travel to any point in its past, particularly after having beer spilt on it.
We know that the greatcoat has a brother in the RAF and we have met his hippy owner from the 1960s.
* Although never seen in the strip, when John bought the Greatcoat it still sported ARP Warden emblems. He removed them after being mistaken, on more than one occasion, for a traffic warden in Morecambe. That kind of thing happens in Morecambe.
ALEX is Kevin’s girlfriend. She thinks the greatcoat is amazing and is totally unfazed by gorillas leaping from its pockets, alien invasion and other weirdness. He parents taught her to be broad-minded.
JOHN first found the greatcoat in an Oxfam shop in the late 1980s and engaged in a series of strange adventures involving aliens, two-headed nuclear power workers and the Easter Bunny. Not necessarily in that order. It’s not surprising he’s given up wearing the thing.
John now works for a local council and is the leak for everything at the council to the local media, but the council administration are either too stupid to work it out, even though he has a Greenpeace poster in his cube, or they don’t care.
JO (John’s partner) is known to have worn the greatcoat at least once, and brooks no shenanigans from the garment. A former theatre student, she now runs a small health foodshop in Florin Street, Lancaster, England. You haven’t found Florin Street yet? What are you accusing us of, a thinly-veiled allusion to Lancaster’s existing counter culture? We deny it completely.
So, what happened to the aliens? Are there still two-headed people in Heysham? Anything’s possible.
• Nick Miller is available for work. E-mail him or call +44 (0)1524 68107
Hey! Really Heavy Greatcoat t-shirts and more available from www.cafepress.com/downthetubes!
ABOUT THE CREATORS
John Freeman is the author of most of The Really Heavy Greatcoat strips. He has over 25 years experience in publishing, working for companies including Marvel UK, Titan Magazines and ROK Comics.
Since the Greatcoat began its run in 1987 he has written the majority of strips, developing the characters and situations to reflect local events and changes in his own life. This does not include numerous partner changes, job swaps and the usual kind of strangeness that often affects creative types.
John lives in Lancaster.
Nick Miller is the talented part of the duo, who slaved away creating Greatcoats for nothing at the expense of paid work, bullied mercilessly by John with threats of breaking all his pencils, stealing his beloved cats, girlfriend, wallpaper etc. and turning up unannounced at his usually quiet house with packets of biscuits demanding tea.
He has clients in the United States, China, Great Britain, Italy and Luxembourg. His numerous credits include illustrations for children’s books, Doctor Who Magazine, The Big Issue, Smut, The Top Banana and The Planet on Sunday. Nick is a regular contributor to Graphic Classics in the US, and you can see more of his stuff here: http://teamsputnik.carbonmade.com
MORE ABOUT GREATCOATS ON THE WEB
Robert Henderson reveals that “With regards to the appearance of the officer’s privately-purchased greatcoat, specific regulations were established in British North America in 1800 by the meticulous Duke of Kent, then Commander of the forces in Canada, calling for: ‘The Great Coats of Officers are invariably to be made of blue cloth double-breasted with regimental buttons and edged throughout with the colour of the lappel of the regiment, those excepted whose lapels are blue and the edging of whose Great Coats will therefore be scarlet.’ Gosh.
American Civil War Greatcoats
This US company specialises in making custom-tailored clothing for the living historians and re-enactors of the 18th century.The clothing they make is based upon original garments, with our patterns based upon examinations, descriptions, photographs, and original drawings of those garments.
• AzRA Historical Resources
US 19th century civilian greatcoats
• The Greatcoat – Why you should have one
As advised by the 47th Virginia Company
Second World War Greatcoats
• Wehrmacht Greatcoats
They may have been fascists, but they dressed nicely. Yeah, right.
• Soviet Greatcoats
How to wear one with impunity
• Buy your own military surplus GreatCoat
Available from ADV Militaria
Action Man Greatcoats
• Greatcoats: an Action Man accessory
It does shrink in the wash, you know.
• The Revolt of the Clothes: a poem by Terry Jones
Led, of course, by a greatcoat