Tuesday, 28 February 2017

2000 AD revives British comic history


Lost classic children’s British comics from the 1970s and ’80s are to be brought back to life by 2000 AD, following its acquisition of the Fleetway and IPC Youth group archive from Egmont UK last year.

Ben Smith, head of books and comic books at Rebellion Publishing, which owns 2000 AD, described it as a chance to restore “a vital but largely overlooked piece of British cultural history”.

The new Treasury of British Comics line will launch in June this year with John Wagner and John Cooper’s “part Dirty Harry, part Judge Dredd” One-Eyed Jack, first published in 1975.

This will be followed in July by the first collection of Mike Western and Eric Bradbury’s “British Spider-man” series The Leopard from Lime Street.

The Watership Down-style tale of a lone fox’s desperate struggle to survive against wicked humans, Marney the Fox, by writer M Scott Goodall and illustrator John Stokes, will be published in hardcover in September, followed by Gerry Finley-Day and Eric Bradbury’s Dracula Files from the pages of Scream!, which saw ‘red peril’ meet gothic horror as Dracula stalked 1980s Britain in one of the 1980s’ most popular comics.

November will see the second volume of the classic 1980s ‘horror comic for girls’ Misty, featuring two stories: “The Sentinels” and “End of the Line”.

And in December, a collection of Ken Reid’s legendary Faceache from Jet and Buster will be published in hardcover. One of the all-too-forgotten greats of British comics, Reid’s work has been cited by Alan Moore and Pat Mills as a major influence.

All titles will be distributed through Simon & Schuster, which already distributes 2000 AD’s bestselling imprint of graphic novels in the UK and North America.

Ben Smith said: “The wealth of story and art from past decades is woefully unexplored and our experience with the 40-year history of 2000 AD was that, if curated in the right way, this material has a large mainstream audience and that classic comics represent extraordinary opportunity not only to satisfy contemporary readers but also save and reinstate a vital but largely overlooked piece of British cultural history.

“It’s an incredible way for parents and grandparents to pass on their own childhood to new generations in the same way that sharing The Wind in the Willows or The Hobbit with children and young people forges and reinforces bonds across families.

“The reprographic work is extraordinarily involved. Most pages have to be sourced from the original printed comics, as the film and artwork has been lost long ago. We have over a decade’s experience with a full time reprographics team, and we expanded the head count to take on the extra workload.

“We’re balancing material we have found to be of exceptional quality, with stories that readers have begun clamouring for as lost classics and little known gems.”