British newspapers might call them “cartoon strips” (because, believe it or not, that’s what the public thinks of them as, not “comic strips” from my own experience of dealing with business people who want to use comics in their projects), but we all know that through the twentieth century and into this one, they’ve had a near undying fascination and supported the newspaper comic strip. From its humble nineteenth century beginnings with the likes of Ally Sloper through to Striker in The Sun, there’s been no shortage of both humour and adventure strips to keep us entertained (although, sadly, as they have in Europe, adventure strips are few and far between in today’s newspapers).
One of the newspapers that’s promoted new comics talent in recent years is The Guardian. It has its long running ‘gag’ strips of course, such as Steve Bell‘s If… and several serialised stories, such as Tanya Drewe by Posy Simmonds. But it’s also been a major supporter of comics both in terms of reviews and coverage, and in fostering new artists and opportunities for comic strip creators.
This weekend, in the run up to the massive “Comics UnMasked” exhibition at the British Library which opens 2nd May, the paper really pushed the boat, asking well known authors to collocate with comic artists to create new works for this special edition. The result was a Guardian Weekend edition featuring 26 pages of comic strip, plus additional features on some of the creators, including a guide to writing comics by John Harris Dunning, the co-curator of the British Library exhibition, and an interview with author Gillian Flynn and Dave Gibbons about their collaboration creating Masks for this special issue.
“It was thrilling to see it come to life as Dave sent me the images,” says Gillian. “As an author, you’re used to everything existing in your head. His drawings made my surreal creepy story feel much more real.”
If you missed the physical edition, the good news is that you can read at least some of the strips on The Guardian‘s web site.
Here’s the first page of each, plus links to the full stories. All art and stories © the respective creators.
Masks by Gillian Flynn and Dave Gibbons
Gillian Flynn, author of the global bestseller Gone Girl, makes her comic debut with Dave Gibbons in a new short story in which they look at what happens when parents turn vigilante
Having Renewed my Fire by Dave Eggers (who also drew the cover of the Weekend Edition)
McSweeney’s editor and novelist Dave Eggers decided to veer from the brief and both script and draw a graphic short story of a Wild West bison adventure inspired by his trips to Golden Gate Park in San Francisco
Thursdays, Six to Eight p.m. by Audrey Niffenegger and Eddie Campbell
The author of The Time Traveller’s Wife teams up with her long-distance partner, From Hell co-creator Eddie for a suitably biazarre-looking 21st-century story of love and paranoia
Freeforall, by Margaret Atwood and Christian Ward
New graphic talent Christian Ward adapts The Handmaid’s Tale author Margaret Atwood’s typically dystopian tale into a graphic short story
Art and Anarchy by Michel Faber and Roger Langridge
Under The Skin author Michel Faber and artist Roger Langridge imagine what would happen if David Cameron and Barack Obama met at a comics shop
Do You Hear What I Hear? by A.M.Homes, adapted by Frazer Irving
The End Of Alice author AM Homes’s tale of a mysterious phone call is adapted into a graphic short story by Frazer Irving, best known for his work on Batman and the 2000AD series Necronauts
• Comics Unmasked: Art And Anarchy in Tthe UK opens at the British Library, London NW1, on 2 May, and is curated by John Harris Dunning, Paul Gravett and Adrian Edwards.
• All the tie-in events running at the British Library as part of “Comics Unmasked” from May until August, culminating in a Comica Weekend tie-in event, are listed on our British comics events calendar pag