So You Like British Comics. Where Next?

So You Like British Comics. Where next?

Storified by Alex Hern · Fri, Dec 14 2012 10:32:09

Even though I have been editing British Comics Week, I couldn't cover everything. I wanted to write about Kate Brown's marvellous Fish and Chocolate; I wanted to write about Great Beast comics – Marc Ellerby and Adam Cadwell – and their audacious self-publishing experiment. A real look at British comics wouldn't be complete without looking at the kings and queens of webcomics, like John Allison, Josceline Fenton, and Claude Trollope-Curson. Nor would it be missing a discussion of British manga, of alt-comix, or of anthologies like Solipsistic Pop and Paper Science. And – somewhat deliberately – this week has glossed over the contributions of Grant Morrison, Neil Gaiman, Alan Moore, Warren Ellis, John Wagner, Pat Mills, and all of the other greats, in favour of covering writers and artists who you may not have heard of.

So hopefully, we'll have another.
When I was planning the week, I was aware I had a slight bias towards comics writers, so I put out a call to ask who the best artists and writer/artists in the Britain were.

The response overwhelmed me, and serves as a good list of all the people who we simply couldn't mention in the week. If you're thinking "that was good, where next?", try these:

@alexhern Luke Pearson, Kristyna Baczynski, John Allison, Joe Decie, Philippa Rice, Dan Berry, Lizz Lunney, Daryl Cunningham, Jamie Smart..Joe List
@alexhern …I could go on. There are a lot of great artist/writers in the UK right now.Joe List
@alexhern Alan Davis, Dave McKean, Brian Bolland, David Lloyd are all superbJingle the Hedgehog
@alexhern Standard issue Moore / Gaiman response. I also like Warren Ellis.Steve
(That's Alan Moore and Neil Gaiman. Neither of them are really artists, but Steve was confused)
@alexhern @blankslatebooks only publishes writer/artists: check their outputalison sampson
@alexhern and the same goes for most of @selfmadehero 's stuff and @nobrowpress but you knew this? i'd say @robgog @naobrown @philipparicealison sampson
(@Robgog is Rob Davis, and @naobrown is Glyn Dillon)
@alexhern That dude who illustrated "From Hell". Is he British tho?Matthijs Krul
(Matthijs means Eddie Campbell)
@alexhern basically anyone who ever appeared in an issue of Solipsistic Pop counts.James Hunt
(That's a lot of people. The full list of contributors is here.)
@alexhern Comics: off the top of my noddle - Jon McNaught, Eddie Campbell, Mick/Mike McMahon, Sean Phillips, Bryan Talbot, Brendan McCarthyTom Murphy
@alexhern decadence comics then. one without a lot of exposure. and will kirkby's writing is as witty as his art. hes a good self publisher.alison sampson
@alexhern My two cents: Luke Pearson and Kate Brown. Also, after Nao of Brown, I'd say Glyn Dillon.Michael Leader
@alexhern Note: those were mainly for the writer/artist side of the question. Also, young'uns.Michael Leader
@alexhern Glyn Dillon, Rob Davis, Posy Simmonds, Raymond Briggs, Gary Northfield, Jamie Smart, Simone Lia, Tom Gauld, Warren Pleece.Dave Shelton
@alexhern Off the top of my head: Bryan Talbot, Sean Phillips, Kevin O'Neil Gllyn Dillon, loads more I'm forgetting right nowSaul Taylor
@alexhern just personal preference but has to be Alan Davis. Still amazing after all these years. Oh and yeah @McKelvie is def up there tooIan Nicholson
(@McKelvie is Jamie McKelvie)
@alexhern Loads, but I have to single out Gary Northfield as he's dead, dead good. And I'm going to stop jerking him off in public now.Tralfamadorian Red.
@alexhern Eddie CampbellSebastian Sutcliffe
@alexhern not sure if he's been mentioned but David Lloyd needs to be in there somewhere.James Vincent
Although Tom Humberstone could well be included in this round-up, the next two tweets are replies to him and me:
@alexhern @TomHumberstone Steve Dillon and John Wagner.Matt Owen
@alexhern @TomHumberstone can o'worms! I like @olivereast @robjacksoncomix @DECADENCECOMICS and @joedecie amongst othersSimon Moreton
@alexhern Frazer Irving, Frank Quitely, Simon Bisley & I.N.J. CulbardIan Dunt
@alexhern I had the pleasure of interviewing him about Aces Weekly for Wired - was just a lovely gun. Also; Dave McKean needs in.James Vincent
@alexhern Jock, Bisley, Gibbons, O'Neill, Bolland. (Sliiiiiight @2000AD bias to my responses.)Kensington
(Simon Bisley, Dave Gibbons, Kevin O'Neill, Brian Bolland. Jock only has one name, like Madonna)
@alexhern Mart Brooker for art; writer/artist: Brendan McCarthy? Also impressed with Bryan Talbot on that scale.Craig Grannell
@alexhern Gotta mention Bryan Talbot, Hunt Emerson, Ed 'Ilya' Hillier, Glyn Dillon and a trio of Daves - Lloyd, McKean and Gibbons.Karl A Russell
Today, I decided that I'd gone too far the other way, and asked for a list of writers who deserved their own spotlight:
@alexhern Al Ewing, John Wagner, Si Spurrier, Kieron Gillen, Rob Williams.molcher
@alexhern John Wagner is absurdly underrated.Craig Grannell
@alexhern Rob Williams, Grant Morrison (obvs), Al Ewing, Kieron Gillen. Gillen top of the list for me this year. All the lists.Ian Dunt
@alexhern For me, it's @kierongillen by a huge margin. I'm a bit scared of what he might achieve at Marvel.John
@alexhern Morrison, Gillen (shh don’t let him overhear), Carey, Milligan, Moore (when he bothers).Seb Patrick
(Grant Morrison, Kieron Gillen, Mike Carey, Peter Milligan and Alan Moore)
@alexhern Alan Moore. Hands down. No contest. Obvious answer I know, but still.Trunkman Productions
@alexhern @jonlockcomics & @TheMatthewCraigjack davies
(Self-evidently, Jon Lock and Matthew Craig)
@alexhern Andy Diggle. Great action writer.Stuart Mckechnie
@alexhern @mistergristEd Sellek
(Paul Grist)
@alexhern Warren Ellis, Mark Millar, Alan Moore, Mike Carey, Antony Johnston and Neil GaimanBerwyn Lloyd
@alexhern John Allison, Anthony Johnston, Andy Diggle, Josceline Fenton, Kate Brown, Warren Ellis.Adam Cadwell

Photograph: Getty Images

Alex Hern is a technology reporter for the Guardian. He was formerly staff writer at the New Statesman. You should follow Alex on Twitter.

Don't Tell the Bride YouTube screengrab
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How did Don’t Tell the Bride lose its spark?

Falling out of the love with reality TV’s wedding planning hit.

Steph, 23, from Nottinghamshire, is standing in a drizzly field wearing a wedding dress. Her betrothed, Billy, is running around in a tweed flat cap trying to make some pigs walk in “a continuous parade”. A man from Guinness World Records is watching with a clipboard, shaking his head. Bridesmaids gaze sorrowfully into the middle distance, each in a damp pig onesie.

Thus ends the second wedding in E4’s new series of Don’t Tell the Bride – and the programme’s integrity with it.

When the classic programme, which follows grooms attempting to plan their wedding (punchline: human males doing some organising), began a decade ago on BBC Three, it had the raw spark of unpredictability. For eight years, the show did nothing fancy with the format, and stuck with pretty ordinary couples who had few eccentric aspirations for their wedding day.

This usually resulted in run-of-the-mill, mildly disappointing weddings where the worst thing that happened would be a reception at the nearest motorway pub, or an ill-fitting New Look low heel.

It sounds dull, but anyone who has religiously watched it knows that the more low-key weddings expose what is truly intriguing about this programme: the unconditional commitment – or doomed nature – of a relationship. As one of the show’s superfans told the Radio Times a couple of years ago:

“It’s perfect, and not in an ironic or post-ironic or snarky way. The format has the solemn weight of a ceremony . . . Don’t Tell the Bride is not about ruined weddings, it’s about hope. Every wedding is a demonstration of how our ambitions curve away from our abilities. It’s a show about striving to deserve love and how that’s rarely enough.”

It also meant that when there were bombshells, they were stand-out episodes. High drama like Series 4’s notorious Las Vegas wedding almost resulting in a no-show bride. Or heart-warming surprises like the geezer Luke in Series 3 playing Fifa and guzzling a tinny on his wedding morning, who incongruously pulls off a stonking wedding day (complete with special permission from the Catholic Church).

For its eight years on BBC Three, a few wildcard weddings were thrown into the mix of each series. Then the show had a brief affair with BBC One, a flirt with Sky, and is now on its tenth year, 13th series and in a brand new relationship – with the more outrageous E4.

During its journey from BBC Three, the show has been losing its way. Tedious relationship preamble has been used to beef up each episode. Some of the grooms are cruel rather than clueless, or seem more pathetic and vulnerable than naïve. And wackier weddings have become the norm.

The programme has now fully split from its understated roots. Since it kicked off at the end of July, every wedding has been a publicity stunt. The pig farm nuptials are sandwiched between a Costa del Sol-based parasail monstrosity and an Eighties Neighbours-themed ceremony, for example. All facilitated by producers clearly handing the groom and best men karaoke booth-style props (sombreros! Inflatable guitars! Wigs!) to soup up the living room planning process.

Such hamminess doesn’t give us the same fly-on-the-wall flavour of a relationship as the older episodes. But maybe this level of artifice is appropriate. As one groom revealed to enraged fans in The Sun this week, the ceremonies filmed are not actually legally binding. “It makes a bit of a mockery of the process that the bride and groom go through this huge ordeal for a ceremony which isn’t even legal,” he said. Perhaps we should’ve predicted it would all eventually end in divorce – from reality.

Don’t Tell the Bride is on E4 at 9pm

Anoosh Chakelian is senior writer at the New Statesman.