An impressive group of British comic creators have joined forces to launch a Kickstarter campaign for CROSS, a 64-page anthology of satire, born from a group of people who wish Spitting Image was still around to keep us all aware of who’s in charge and why we should hold them to account.
Edited by Connor and Lizzie Boyle of Disconnected Press, with a financial target of £3000, the team includes writers Rob Williams, David Baillie, Emma Beeby, Tom Eglington and Mary Talbot, and artists PJ Holden, Ben Willsher, Matthew Soffe (who provided the promotional art, above) and many more, all determined to “stick two fingers up at the establishment” with a savage blend of “comic satire, venom and the occasional robot” which will, hopefully, launch at ThoughtBubble in November.
“Ours is a country where the Prime Minister, Deputy Prime Minister and Chancellor of the Exchequer all went to schools which charge more per year than the average household earns,” note the Boyle’s in their pitch to get CROSS funded. “Where the majority of Members of Parliament and local councillors are male, white and over 50.
“We’re told we have to do as they tell us. When nurses staged a protest about cuts to NHS budgets, bankers waved banknotes through their office windows at the demonstration, laughing as they did so. Meanwhile, the NHS is being stripped by the politicians and sold off by the bankers – to companies that have donated to the same political parties, headed by more nice folks who went to those same expensive schools. More of a “do as we say, not as we do” then.
“Ours is a country where the five richest families are worth more than the poorest 12 million people, and where as many of us spend £1 texting our X Factor vote to Simon Cowell as we do voting in local elections. Does all this sound right to you?”
“We could join a protest,” the editorial team acknowledge. “Or we could do what we do at Disconnected Press: we could make a comic.”
CROSS is described as a collection of short comic stories from some of the UK’s finest creators, a shot across the bows of the establishment. “A call to people across the land to think about who governs us and the decisions they make on our behalf. And a rallying call to get out the vote.
“There was a timely interview with Rory Bremner recently, talking about the death of satire,” notes Conor. “He said we should rediscover our tradition of satire. Of speaking truth unto power. Or, at least, blowing raspberries unto it. It’s a question of political will. Can we do it in time for the next election? Yes, we can.’ That’s what we are trying to create with CROSS — 64 pages, poking a stick at the elite and the establishment, speaking truth unto power, no matter where that power is held.”
“We’ve always worked with emerging comics talent,” notes Conor, “and we’re delighted to be working with previous Disconnected creators including Tom Foster, Verity Glass, Owen Johnson and Matthew Soffe. ”
For this project, however, the Disconnected Press team has recruited some top UK comics names into our line-up, including (of those announced so far): 2000AD and Marvel Comics writer Rob Williams , currently writing Doctor Who for Titan Comics; Mary Talbot, author of the Costa Award-winning Dotter of her Father’s Eyes and Sally Heathcote, Suffragette, and a founder-patron of the Lakes International Comic Art Festival; Judge Dredd artist Ben Willsher , a key part of the team involved with the top 2000AD character’s epic Day of Chaos storyline in 2013; NumberCruncher and Department of Monsterology artist PJ Holden; independent creator Howard Hardiman, whose comic The Lengths placed him at the forefront of the UK comics scene; and Emma Beeby, the first woman ever to write Judge Dredd for 2000AD, as well as an award-winning game writer and creator of Doctor Who audioplays. Her graphic novel Robbie Burns: Witch Hunter, written with Gordon Rennie, will be published in November 2014 from Renegade.
“CROSS is our most ambitious project to date,” says Lizzie, outlining why they chose the Kickstarter route for the book. “It has more creators, more stories, more pages and, therefore, more upfront production costs. We have created rewards which we hope backers appreciate, from a simple Thank You to signed books and sketches from some of our amazing team.
“We believe wholeheartedly that this book will make a difference. We also believe it’ll make you laugh.”
“If you were ambivalent to the shenanigans seemingly taking place on a daily basis in Parliament (or nightly on the news), we’d like to think we could convince you that changing things might help you as an individual,” says Conor. “If you already care what happens but feel powerless, then perhaps we can convince you that you really do have the power to do something about it.
“And if you just don’t care, then we guarantee these stories will change your mind.”
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.