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.

Iain Cameron
Show Hide image

Meet Scotland's 300-year-old snow patch, the Sphinx

Snow patch watchers expect it to melt away by the weekend. 

This weekend, Scotland's most resilient snow patch, dubbed Sphinx, is expected to melt away. The news has been met with a surprising outpouring of emotion and nationwide coverage. Even The Financial Times covered the story with the headline "The end is nigh for Britain's last snow". The story has also gone international, featuring in radio reports as far away as New Zealand.

So what is it about Sphinx that has captured the public’s imagination?  Some have suggested it could be symbolic. The Sphinx represents how we all feel, helpless and doomed to a fate determined by leaders like Donald Trump and Kim Jong Un. 

Regular contributors to the Facebook page “Snow Patches in Scotland”  have their own, more prosaic theories. One tells me that the British are “generally a bit obsessed with weather and climate”, while another says snow-patches are "more interesting than anything Trump/May/Boris or Vladimir have to say”.

Those more interested in patches of snow than the existential consequences of international relations could be dismissed as having seriously skewed priorities, but there's more to the story of Sphinx than lies on the surface. 

For a start it's thought to be 300 years old, covering a small square of the Cairngorms for centuries with just six brief interruptions. Last time the Sphinx disappeared was 11 years ago. Though it may melt away this weekend, it is expected to be back by winter. 

Iain Cameron, the man who set up the Facebook page "Snow Patches in Scotland" and someone who has recorded and measured snow patches since he was a young boy, says that Sphinx has shrunk to the size of a large dinner table and he expects it will have melted entirely by this Saturday.

It came close to disappearing in 2011 as well, he adds. In October of that year, Sphinx at around its current size and only a heavy snowstorm revived it.

"They tend to keep the same shape and form every year," Cameron tells me. "It might sound weird to say, but it’s like seeing an elderly relative or an old friend. You’re slightly disappointed if it’s not in as good a condition."

But why has Sphinx survived for so long? The patch of land that Sphinx lies above faces towards the North East, meaning it is sheltered from the elements by large natural formations called Corries and avoids the bulk of what sunlight northern Scotland has to offer. 

It also sits on a bid of soil rather than boulder-fields, unlike the snow patches on Britain's highest mountain Ben Nevis. Boulder-fields allow air through them, but the soil does not, meaning the Sphinx melts only from the top.

Cameron is hesistant to attribute the increased rate of Sphinx's melting to climate change. He says meterologists can decide the causes based on the data which he and his fellow anoraks (as he calls them) collect. 

That data shows that over the past 11 years since Sphinx last melted it has changed size each year, not following any discernable pattern. “There is no rhyme or reason because of the vagaries of the Scottish climate," says Cameron.

One thing that has changed is Sphinx's title is no longer quite so secure. There is another snow patch in near Ben Nevis vying for the position of the last in Scotland. Cameron says that it is 50:50 as to which one will go first.