GREAT BRITISH COMICS
A Review By: Nude Magazine
Nude Magazine was launched in August 2003 by Suzy Prince and Ian Lowey; two people brought together by a shared interest in many of the strange and exotic things which exist at the margins of pop culture.
This is a wonderful book: incisive nostalgia, a celebration of pen-and-ink work and a visual feast of well-known and obscure comics. In every respect, it’s smashing.
Other authors have, in the past, attempted tomes chronicling the history of British comics, but they’ve usually tended to attempt a coffee-table book crammed with dry text, detailing who published what and when, floundering with the profusion of material. In this case, it’s not usually a failure of the author’s prose; the topic is vast, and covers such a range of sub-genres, periods, and materials that it is truly bewildering to follow.
Refreshing then to read Great British Comics, by Gravett and Stanbury, which copes with the nebulous nature of the topic with confidence. Indeed they draw you through the material with such ease, so I found myself reading chapters, and then pouring over the pages to drink in the reproduced work for hours. None have captured the range of material available, from so many ages, with such interesting examples and percepive writing. And it’s well designed, with time-lines and photographs to illustrate specific areas, and my favourite – a two page spread of the great and the good in British comics, laid out as cigarette cards.
It’s lavishly illustrated throughout, and one of the key joys of this book is the examples printed within. Not only does it show the prime specimens of Great British Comics, but also the awful British comics, absurd British comics, and underground British comics; amongst them gems I’d forgotten, and others I wish I’d seen before.
Great British Comics doesn’t dwell on one particular era, but does justice to each age. It doesn’t plaster pages with comic covers, but gives clearly printed examples of the inside art. It doesn’t try to slavishly follow the history with chapters, but rather grabs logical sections and deals with then deftly.
All ‘round, a good book.