BLOG A Tale Of One Bad Bryan Talbot Fan
Get nervous meeting people you admire? Blogger John Cooper met Bryan Talbot years ago, very briefly.
The Tale Of One Bad Rat
I’ve been in Bryan Talbot’s house. More specifically I’ve been politely chased out of his house by the man himself – back in 1998.
A bit of background first. Bryan Talbot is a bit of a British comics legend having been part of the original British comics explosion of the late 70’s, an artist on 2000AD in it’s newsprint days, and with his early work The Adventures Of Luther Arkwright, whose depth of narrative and deliberate lack of comic language shorthand – no whizz-lines or or sound effects here – became an inspiration to modern comics writers and artists alike.
Two favourite works include Mask, a two-part Batman story where Bruce Wayne wakes up in hospital to discover he’s a recovering alcoholic tramp, all smelly and stubbly, who puts on a manky old bat-eared costume and runs around back alleys to escape the depressing reality of his existence (or does he?), and Alice In Sunderland, a truly epic journey through both the mind of the narrator and the folk history of a town I lived in for 26 years without incident, earning him an honorary degree from Sunderland university in 2010. He wasn’t the first person to get a degree in from the university for drawing comics though – that was me, back in 1998.
Cutting a long story short I used to draw comics and went through university boring all that would listen about how good comics were. DC’s Vertigo imprint had just been launched and I would rock up at my art and illustration lectures with copies of The Sandman, Hellblazer, Doom Patrol and Bryan’s Tale of One Bad Rat – basically anything that was cool but also showed exemplary figure draughtsmanship – in order to convince my lecturers of how valid the form was to study and practice as part of my university course. I eventually succeeded and produced a graphic novel for my final year piece, coming out of it with a with hard-earned qualification. After that I did a regular mini-comic called Magic Lamp Boy. It was eclectic, but got good reviews.
I got wind that Bryan Talbot had moved to Sunderland at the local comic shop where I worked. I wasn’t convinced at first. Comic shops attract mad people who are easily excited and say anything. But it was true, and I managed to get his email via the fledging internet, using Netscape Navigator if memory serves. I told him of my comic and asked if he’d like to read it and he graciously replied with his address and asked me to post some copies to him.
Of course I didn’t post my comics, I had a far better idea. Address in hand I doorstepped his house one Sunday afternoon. His wife answered the door, and I made some flimsy nervous attempt to ask to see Bryan. I was welcomed into the hallway to wait. I didn’t know what I expected. Tell him of my plight to promote comics in Sunderland? Maybe. Mr Talbot himself appeared, kindly received five issues of Magic Lamp Boy then politely and efficiently showed me the door in case I was one of the mad comics people who are easily excited and say anything.
A week later I got an email from Bryan. He’d read my comic and he really liked it. I was happy for a week.
I’ll be at the SFX weekender in February attempting to say hello again to Bryan Talbot.