Saturday, July 09, 2011
Learning from history
This October sees the publication of a new book on the history of UK comics. Titled British Comics: A Cultural History the 320 page hardback is written by James Chapman, a Professor of Film Studies who has previously authored books on film in relation to society.
The book promises to cover the whole history of British comics, from the early days of Ally Sloper to the present day. (Hopefully its conclusions won't be too downbeat and dismissive of current UK comics as some studies have been.)
The book is now up for pre-order at Amazon UK.
Back when the late comics historian Denis Gifford was still with us he seemed to be producing books on the history of comics on a regular basis, from the slim digest Discovering Comics to the weighty International Book of Comics. Back when I was 16 and supposedly revising for my 'O' Level exams at the local library I'd be pouring through Denis' Happy Days, One Hundred Years of Comics instead. It never did me any harm. In fact it inspired me and stood me in good stead for the future.
Since Denis died several years ago there's been much written on specific areas of British comics but not so much about the whole history of the artform. However one such book is Great British Comics by Paul Gravett and Peter Stanbury. The large format 192 page softback was published in 2006 but copies are still available (here) and should be essential reading for anyone interested in the background of UK comics.
Here's a few snapshots of some of the spreads from Great British Comics to give you an idea. Every page is in full colour, the research is top-notch, and the book is well illustrated with crisp, clear scans throughout.
Will James Chapman's British Comics book be a match for Great British Comics? No doubt it'll have its own opinions and approach to the history, but that can only be a good thing to broaden one's knowledge of the medium. Roll on October!