Author, publisher, lecturer and film maker John McShane pays tribute to his friend, comics writer and author Alan Grant, whose death was announced earlier today
When Alan Grant was sub-editor on 2000AD, the magazine had some of the greatest comics artist on the planet. The problem, as Alan saw it, was to get writers of the highest calibre to work with them. In the editorial office there was a huge drawer of unsolicited manuscripts which Alan dutifully worked through. He found a script in which “everything was twice as long as it needed to be”, but the writer was so good that Alan found it difficult to cut the story without damaging it. So, Alan asked this guy to trim the story by 30-50%. “He did it and we bought the story. It was a good little ‘Future Shock’. That helped set him off on his career as a comics writer.”
The writer was, of course, Alan Moore. But ask any aspiring writer from that time, and most of them will have similar stories of Alan Grant helping them to achieve their ambitions.
Alan may have actually been born in Bristol, but you wouldn’t guess this from his accent or characters like Middenface McNulty. Like many UK comics stars, Alan worked for a while for DC Thomson. I think he told me he wrote a kind of agony aunt column, both the letters and the answers. But it was his agreeing to help John Wagner during a busy period at IPC which created the Lennon-McCartney of comics.
If I were to say that one of their best ever scripts was The Bogie Man, I would be displaying a little bias, since I was the publisher. So just let me say that The Last American, with magnificent artwork by Mick McMahon, is a personal favourite and should be in everyone’s collection.
Of course, Alan’s work on Batman was just astounding, especially The Scottish Connection with Frank Quitely on the art, which establishes the Wayne’s family roots in Scotland – where else? This work enabled Alan to buy a fabulous house in Moniaive which we used to refer to as Wayne Manor.
Alan worked for all the main publishers and for animation, but he never neglected the little publishers hence his contributions to Northern Lightz, FutureQuake, and Ganjaman.
When Waverley Books wanted to do a graphic novel of Robert Louis Stevenson’s Kidnapped when Edinburgh was UNESCO City of Literature, they wisely engaged Alan and Cam Kennedy for the task. After adapting it, Alan told me that he had rediscovered what a truly great writer RLS was. Many copies were distributed free to schools, thus no doubt introducing many young people to the wonderful medium of graphic novels. Alan and Cam went on to do Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde as a follow up.
Alan was a man o’ pairts. He was a great editor, a great writer, a great raconteur, a great husband and father, a great companion, and a wonderful friend and inspiration. Articles have already started to appear abroad. He will be missed by many thousands all over the world.
It was a privilege to know him.
Alan Grant, born 9th February 1949, died 21st July 2022
• The Guardian Obituary
By David Barnett – Published 31st July 2022
With his business partners Pete Root and Bob Napier, John McShane created AKA Books & Comics, the shop Mark Millar says got him completely addicted to the medium. He went on to create Fat Man Press with George Jackson, which published the ever-popular The Bogie Man by John Wagner, Alan Grant, and Robin Smith, later made into a TV Movie starring Robbie Coltrane.
John was later appointed publisher of Trident Comics and helped found the original TOXIC comic. His books include Robert Burns in Edinburgh, How To Create Graphic Novels by Rodolphe Töpffer, The Spirit, and Fingal, Celtic Warrior. He is a regular contributor to Comic Scene History of Comics, and a frequent presenter at comics and literature festivals.