Glenn Dakin’s A Trial Death and Other Stories available now from Colossive Press

Colossive Press launched A Trial Death and Other Stories, a new selection of ‘Abe’ comics by Glenn Dakin at the Lakes International Comic Art Festival last weekend.

A Trial Death and Other Stories by Glenn Dakin - Cover

Reading this book was, for me, a wonderful reminder of my early days discovering independent comic creators through Paul Gravett and Peter Stanbury’s Fast Fiction table at the Westminster Comic Marts, back in in the 1980s, where I first discovered Glenn’s gently humorous, captivating work. So I’ve no hesitation recommending you check out this book, hand-sewn into a risograph cover printed by PageMasters. It’s a title, in my opinion, well worth your consideration, time… and money.

Glenn Dakin

Glenn Dakin should need no introduction to most downthetubes readers. A cartoonist and writer, he’s known for his autobiographical comic, Abe: Wrong For All The Right Reasons (Top Shelf) and the now hard-to-find Temptation (Penguin & Active Images). He has also written for Marvel UK and Marvel Comics (Plasmer, Motorouth & Killpower, and ClanDestine). His novels include the Candle Man fantasy series from Egmont.

As an animation writer he has worked on Shaun the Sheep (Aardman). Recent humour books include Mr Spock’s Little Book of Mindfulness and Be More Batman. He is currently writing a new fantasy trilogy for Scholastic.

Glenn was an integral part of a tight group of creators whose work sold through Fast Fiction, artists that also included Phil Elliott and Eddie Campbell, who provides a foreword for this edition. As well as appearing in influential anthology titles such as EscapeDeadline and Fast Fiction, they developed the Harrier New Wave line of comics, with other creators including Warren Pleece, Rian Hughes and Trevs (Woodrow) Phoenix.

Although Abe started life as the alter ego of a satirical superhero – Captain Oblivion – in a city of the future, he was always more interested in wry commentary on the world around him than fisticuffs with supervillains. By the mid-1990s (the period from which most of these stories date), he had developed into a vehicle for altogether more reflective takes on life, in what Eddie Campbell refers to in his foreword as “a kind of visual poetry of the night, faraway places and half-remembered dreams”.

A Trial Death and Other Stories by Glenn Dakin
A Trial Death and Other Stories by Glenn Dakin
A Trial Death and Other Stories by Glenn Dakin

“The Abe strip became a strip about life – both the inner realm as well as the outer universe,” Glenn recalls. “I thought a comic could be like a great song you’d hear on the radio. I didn’t want to be tied down by plot and other conventions. They’re a bit dream-like, freewheeling. I’m sort of following my spirit where it takes me.

“Looking at these strips now I feel the fun in them, as well as the thoughtful side. the experimenting, the cheeky use of guest stars. There are references to Ghostbusters, Snowy, Tolkien, Rupert Bear and even Superman hidden away in there.”

Dakin’s scratchy, energetic cartooning has stood the test of time. “Drawing-wise, it’s easy to be critical of your own stuff,” he says. “But looking at these I’m glad I drew things the way they felt, rather than aiming at more realism. It means it all stays fresh to you, and I think the tales here will feel fresh to new readers too.”

The work showcased here includes “Abe Inherits the Moon”, in which an unexpected legacy comes with complications; “We Have All the Time in the World”, a bittersweet Greek travelogue; “A Dream England”, where a hike into “the beautiful England that is no longer seen and talked about”, that leads to encounters with an anxious alien and King Arthur; and the uplifting title story, in which Abe takes a positive approach to dealing with life’s hammer blows.

A Trial Death and Other Stories by Glenn Dakin

“I love that Colossive Press just wanted a collection of the more poetic strips,” says Glenn. “Probably I would have found it hard to leave stuff out, so I just went completely with the great selection made by Colossive’s Tom Murphy.

“I’m especially pleased I had the chance to tweak my strip ‘The Hobbit,’” he adds, “as I overthought one caption and have always wanted to revise it. It was the starting point of the whole strip too. Curious readers can compare it with the old version!”

A Trial Death and Other Stories by Glenn Dakin

Part of the appeal for Colossive was the opportunity to present Glenn Dakin’s work in a larger format than the previous collection, Abe: Wrong for All the Right Reasons, published by Top Shelf Comics around the turn of the century.

“I was going for quite sketchy, evocative art in some of these,” Glenn notes, “and at A4 size you can sort of feel the light and air in them, the English rain and the Greek sunshine. I drew a new cover, and with the silver print on dark blue it looks like I just sketched all the covers in pencil. It’s lovely to get some Abe out there again for hopefully a new audience.”

Tom Murphy of Colossive Press says: “I’ve been a fan of Glenn since the Fast Fiction days; I used to have a photocopy of ‘Abe Inherits the Moon’ on the wall of my student bedroom, and I’d never have imagined that 35 years later I’d be able to publish a collection of this fantastic work. In an increasingly fraught and frantic world, the gentle whimsy and insight of Glenn’s work is a soothing treat.”

The publication of A Trial Death and Other Stories is part of a revival of interest in the small press comics of that fertile period. Dakin’s work has also appeared recently in two crowd-funded issues of !GAG!, alongside Campbell and Elliott, while their contemporary (and former Fast Fiction editor) Ed Pinsent has also returned to the comics frontline, including his contribution to the Colossive Cartographies series, Astorial Cutaway.

• A Trial Death and Other Stories by Glenn Dakin is available here direct from Colossive Press

Glenn Dakin is online at | Twitter

Categories: British Comics, British Comics - Collections, British Comics - Current British Publishers, Comics, Creating Comics, downthetubes Comics News, downthetubes News

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