A Note From Oliver East on the Subject of British Comics

Categories:  Features, News

Oliver East

Someone at The Daily Cross Hatch has taken leave of their senses and asked me to write a column on the scene over here in the UK and Europe–just in the nick of time as well. Just as I finish The Watchmen for the first time. You may scoff, but I just had the pleasure of reading it for the first time, whereas you read it ages ago, and I’m relieved to have discovered it’s as enthralling as everyone said it was. Phew, finally done it, I can join the club now.

But how can you write about comics having only just read the form’s pinnicle , you may ask? Damned if I know but I’ll give it a shot. I make comics if that helps. Good ones if that helps further (I’ve made bad ones as well but you don’t need to see them). I don’t mind saying that; I’m proud of the fact.

Proclaim this amongst certain people however and something happens. I can be talking to some of my oldest and dearest friends, all artists (very good ones), teachers, musicians–all very open minded people. But as soon as I say, oh I don’t know, either, “my new comic…” or “This comic I’m working on…,” they pale ever so slightly and bow their heads, becoming monosyllabic. Either that or they develop a tick of sorts. People don’t like comics, or, rather, people don’t know comics.

There are some bad comics in Britain, sure, but no more so than anywhere else. It’s the same with anything–film, music, art–90-percent of it’s crap, but the other 10-percent helps you keep the faith.

Small press in the States can include D+Q and Fantagraphics. In the UK, the term usually means self-published stuff, which I love. I love the idea of someone beavering away in their studio/bedroom/kitchen table to produce something they hope strangers will like. There are a few boutique publishers and people with beards keeping the dream alive over here, but the comics that we like aren’t appreciated in the same way as over on your side. They all need a bigger audience, and the States and the Internet are as big as they come, so I’ll search for the good amongst the bad and let you know when I find them. I won’t do a bad review of something I’ve found myself, that’s unfair. This is a new column and I wouldn’t mind making a few new friends here and there.

If you want to send me comics to review here (UK and European comics only, please) e-mail me for my postal address at:

east@rollingstockpress.co.uk

This’ll be fun.

–Oliver East

[Editor’s note: Dear lord, what have we wrought? East is the author of the mini Trains are…Mint.-BH.]

No Comments to “A Note From Oliver East on the Subject of British Comics”

  1. Adam_Y | March 19th, 2008 at 9:49 am

    Hey, Mr East…

    … I met you at lancaster the year before last…

    I think you’re the right bloke for the job – or at least your summation of British comics leads me to believe that.

    I too get that vacant nam-like stare whenever I meation my comic to my friends… including several other artists of various media.

    My favourite response was ‘do people still make those?’

    Like small press comics were something that only existed in the UK in the late 80s/early 90s.

    Top stuff. I’m looking forward to the reviews.

  2. Liz | March 19th, 2008 at 12:17 pm

    “Beavering away?” Does Oliver know what a beaver is slang for here? Either way I plan to totally use that phrase more often. I must be off, I need to beaver away some spreadsheets!

  3. bheater | March 19th, 2008 at 1:53 pm

    Liz: I was wondering that myself. Either way, it should make for some interesting blog posts…

  4. Matt Badham | March 20th, 2008 at 3:02 pm

    While here in the UK our fanny refers to your beaver, not your ass (if you get my meaning).

    Makes all the American TV we get all the more entertaining.

    ‘It was as big as a horse’s fanny!’

    Really!

    Cool column, Oli. I’ll be reading it.

  5. Shane Chebsey | March 20th, 2008 at 3:40 pm

    Great column Oli, I’ll be sure to book mark this site, and will probably send you some cool books to review.

    A very amusing article by Phil Hall on how people react when you say you work in comics can be found at: http://www.comicsvillage.net/column.aspx?ArticleID=164

    all the best,

    Shane
    http://www.scarcomics.com

  6. Gary | March 21st, 2008 at 4:33 am

    Great stuff, Mr East. I’ve got a couple of new comics due for release on Saturday, perhaps I’ll send you a copy… are you sure this isn’t a scam to get more free comics?

  7. Marco Milone | March 21st, 2008 at 9:51 am

    Interesting column!

  8. The Forbidden Planet International Blog Log » Oliver East on the Daily Cross Hatch