Here’s Paul Gravett and academic Dave Huxley on BBC News this morning, talking comics and the Comics Unmasked exhibition at the British Library. Crisis, the Eagle and more got name checks (and there’s a vox pops sequence shot at Forbidden Planet, London, in the item). But it was a bit of a shame to learn that Paul’s favourite comic, TV Century 21, isn’t in this huge exhibition.
Perhaps the rights holders – ITV for the Anderson strips and Express Newspapers, who have some of the art from the comic in their vaults – wanted too much money to include it?
Paul quickly countered criticism of its absence by saying the exhibition isn’t about nostalgia, it’s about demonstrating comics is a vital (and evolving) art form. Still a pity, given the comics huge sales in the 1960s.
I gather TV21 isn’t the only absence from the exhibition because of fees asked by rights holders, which is, I hasten to add, fantastic, based on what I’ve seen about it online so far.
However, some comic fans have also pointed out that the exhibition is also about subversion in comics – and that is certainly how Paul tried to steer the interview. It looks to many that the BBC wanted more of a trip down memory lane – because opening with discussion of The Eagle, a wonderful comic but far from a title prone to causing rebellion – doesn’t really fit the theme. (Although in itself, its approach and format was revolutionary at the time when it was first pubished).
• Comics Unmasked: Art and Anarchy in the UK is open at the British Library until 19 August 2014 Web: http://www.bl.uk/whatson/exhibitions/comics-unmasked/
Parental guidance required for visitors under 16 years.
Featuring such iconic names as Neil Gaiman (Sandman), Alan Moore (Watchmen, V for Vendetta), Grant Morrison (Batman: Arkham Asylum) and Posy Simmonds (Tamara Drewe), this exhibition traces the British comics tradition back through classic 1970s titles including 2000AD, Action and Misty to 19th-century illustrated reports of Jack the Ripper and beyond.
Exhibition curators Adrian Edwards, John Harris Dunning and Paul Gravett introduce Comics Unmasked.
The founder of downthetubes, which he established in 1998. John works as a comics and magazine editor, writer, and on promotional work for the Lakes International Comic Art Festival. He is currently editor of Star Trek Explorer, published by Titan – his third tour of duty on the title originally titled Star Trek Magazine.
Working in British comics publishing since the 1980s, his credits include editor of titles such as Doctor Who Magazine, Babylon 5 Magazine, and more. He also edited the comics anthology STRIP Magazine and edited several audio comics for ROK Comics. He has also edited several comic collections, including volumes of “Charley’s War” and “Dan Dare”.
He’s the writer of “Pilgrim: Secrets and Lies” for B7 Comics; “Crucible”, a creator-owned project with 2000AD artist Smuzz; and “Death Duty” and “Skow Dogs” with Dave Hailwood.