Wednesday, January 03, 2007

Heroes of Albion

There was a time when most fans of British comics thought they'd never see the likes of The Steel Claw, Bad Penny, or Grimly Feendish again. Enjoyable characters of a bygone age, forgotten in the modern publishing environment and replaced by licensed tie-in comic magazines and predominantly pre-school titles. Thankfully, 2005 changed all that, reviving those characters and many others for the cast of Albion, the six issue mini-series from Wildstorm Comics.

Now the trade paperback collection is out, where Albion reads much more smoothly than it did in the often delayed mini-series. It's a family affair; plotted by Alan Moore, written by his daughter Leah Moore and her husband John Reppion, and drawn by Shane Oakley, who perhaps is either some mad cousin from Earth 2 or the lodger who will turn out to be their time travelling descendant from the year 5974.

I won't bang on about how good this is. Tons of pixels have already done that on other websites. One thing I will mention though is that Shane's artwork has come in for some criticism from a few of the old school of comic aficionados. My feeling is, yes it's quirky and different from anything seen in those old comics... but that's why it works. With so many old characters included, all of which were originally drawn by individual artists, Albion needed a look that was different to any of their styles to make this stand on its own two feet. To bring those Sixties/ Seventies characters into the modern age, and as the majority of readers would be new to these characters, it needed a modern art style; Shane Oakley's yer man.

There's some nice extras to the book too, in the form of 35 pages of classic reprints of The Steel Claw, House of Dolmann, Kelly's Eye etc. (mostly taken from old annuals). It's a great pity no humour strips are reprinted though as the humour characters play an equal part in the main story as anyone. There's also a short feature by Steve Holland which whilst useful makes the common mistake of crediting Ken Reid as the artist of Georgie's Germs. (Ken Reid and Leo Baxendale signed their Odhams strips so I've never known why they're often credited for strips they didn't draw.)

A British edition of Albion is being published by Titan later this month but for those who can't wait, the US Wildstorm edition is available from the authors at Leah and John's website . While you're there have a look at what other comics that smashing couple are working on. They're bound to be good!


Steve said...

Hi Lew,

You're right, of course: Ken Reid wasn't the artist on Georgie's Germs. It was The Nerves (in Smash) I was thinking of.



Lew Stringer said...

That's right, although Ken only drew The Nervs towards the end of its run. The majority being drawn by Graham Allen.

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