Colossive Press are very proud to announce the launch of A Trial Death and Other Stories, a new selection of ‘Abe’ comics by Glenn Dakin. The book – hand-sewn into a risograph cover printed by PageMasters – made its debut at the Lakes International Comic Art Festival on 30th September and 1st October and is now available on our site.
Glenn Dakin emerged as part of the UK small press comics scene that coalesced around Paul Gravett’s ‘Fast Fiction’ table at the legendary Westminster Comics Marts of the 1980s. He was part of a tight group of creators that included Phil Elliott and Eddie Campbell, who provides a foreword for this edition. As well as appearing in influential anthology titles such as Escape, Deadline and Fast Fiction, they developed the Harrier New Wave line of comics, with other creators including Warren Pleece, Rian Hughes and Trevs (Woodrow) Phoenix.
Although Abe started life as the alter ego of a satirical superhero – Captain Oblivion – in a city of the future, he was always more interested in wry commentary on the world around him than fisticuffs with supervillains. By the mid-1990s (the period from which most of these stories date), he had developed into a vehicle for altogether more reflective takes on life, in what Eddie Campbell refers to in his foreword as “a kind of visual poetry of the night, faraway
places and half-remembered dreams”.
“The Abe strip became a strip about life – both the inner realm as well as the outer universe,” Dakin recalls. “I thought a comic could be like a great song you’d hear on the radio. I didn’t want to be tied down by plot and other conventions. They’re a bit dream-like, freewheeling. I’m sort of following my spirit where it takes me.
“Looking at these strips now I feel the fun in them, as well as the thoughtful side. the experimenting, the cheeky use of guest stars. There are references to Ghostbusters, Snowy, Tolkien, Rupert Bear and even Superman hidden away in there.”
Dakin’s scratchy, energetic cartooning has stood the test of time. “Drawing-wise, it’s easy to be critical of your own stuff,” he says. “But looking at these I’m glad I drew things the way they felt, rather than aiming at more realism. It means it all stays fresh to you, and I think the tales here will feel fresh to new readers too.”
The work showcased here includes: ‘Abe Inherits the Moon’, in which an unexpected legacy comes with complications; ‘We Have All the Time in the World’, a bittersweet Greek travelogue; ‘A Dream England’, where a hike into “the beautiful England that is no longer seen and talked about” leads to encounters with an anxious alien and King Arthur; and the uplifting title story, in which Abe takes a positive approach to dealing with life’s hammer blows.
“I love that Colossive Press just wanted a collection of the more poetic strips,” says Dakin. Probably I would have found it hard to leave stuff out, so I just went completely with the great selection made by Colossive’s Tom Murphy.
“I’m especially pleased I had the chance to tweak my strip ‘The Hobbit,’ as I overthought one caption and have always wanted to revise it. It was the starting point of the whole strip too. Curious readers can compare it with the old version!”
Part of the appeal for Colossive was the opportunity to present Dakin’s work in a larger format than the previous collection, Abe: Wrong for All the Right Reasons, published by Top Shelf Comics around the turn of the century.
Dakin adds: “I was going for quite sketchy, evocative art in some of these, and at A4 size you can sort of feel the light and air in them, the English rain and the Greek sunshine. I drew a new cover, and with the silver print on dark blue it looks like I just sketched all the covers in pencil. It’s lovely to get some Abe out there again for hopefully a new audience.”
Tom Murphy of Colossive Press says: “I’ve been a fan of Glenn since the Fast Fiction days; I used to have a photocopy of ‘Abe Inherits the Moon’ on the wall of my student bedroom, and I’d never have imagined that 35 years later I’d be able to publish a collection of this fantastic work. In an increasingly fraught and frantic world, the gentle whimsy and insight of Glenn’s work is a soothing treat.”
The publication of A Trial Death and Other Stories is part of a revival of interest in the small press comics of that fertile period. Dakin’s work has also appeared recently in two crowd-funded issues of !GAG!, alongside Campbell and Elliott, while their contemporary (and former Fast Fiction editor) Ed Pinsent has also returned to the comics frontline, including his contribution to the Colossive Cartographies series, Astorial Cutaway.
ABOUT GLENN DAKIN
Glenn Dakin is a cartoonist and writer, known for his autobiographical comic Abe: Wrong For All The Right Reasons (Top Shelf) and Temptation (Penguin & Active Images). He has also written for Marvel Comics (Plasmer, ClanDestine, Motor Mouth). His novels include the Candle Man fantasy series from Egmont. As an animation writer he has worked on Shaun the Sheep (Aardman). Recent humour books include Mr Spock’s Little Book of Mindfulness and
Be More Batman. He is currently writing a new fantasy trilogy for Scholastic.
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