Wednesday 4 February 2015

Panel 13: Marvel in London

First blogged on The Daily Constitutional , these posts take us on a virtual Cartoon & Comic Book Tour of London – 20 stops on a metropolis-wide search for all things illustrated. 

I'll be taking in everything from Gillray and Hogarth, to Scooby Doo and on to Deadpool and beyond! In addition I'll guide you to the best in London comic book stores as well as galleries that showcase the best in the cartoonist's art. 

Panel 13: Marvel in London

As we saw in an earlier post, Disney has long-loved London. In recent years Marvel has grown to love us, too, with film adaptations of The Fantastic Four

The Silver Surfer above the London Eye

And Thor

The God of Thunder catches the tube
… being filmed here in the capital.

(Thor is avaliable to buy on iTunes HERE.)

But using film adaptations on my tour is cheating a little bit (I'll leave that to my colleague Richard IV and his wonderful London on Film walks). We're looking for cartoons and comic books. And, as with Disney, Marvel seems to be in love with Big Ben…

I absolutely LOVE this cover from 1975! There's Big Ben plopped down right where the Tower of London should be! One London landmark just wasn't London-y enough. The red double-decker pushes the point home. Great stuff.

Inside the comic, our tale sees Spidey battling with the Green Goblin on a bridge that looks a little more like the Brooklyn Bridge than our own dear Tower Bridge.

Tower Bridge also features in a more recent Marvel book, Deadpool: Dracula's Gauntlet. In fact, here I am at my desk reading said publication instead of working…

Deadpool is a sociopathic mercenary with a mordant line in wisecracks. His superpower – to remain almost un-killable thanks to special regenerative powers – is also his undoing. His moral dubiety and bleak worldview seem to stem from his invincibility. His life is truly relentless and he is duly jaded. The process that turned Wade Wilson into Deadpool has left him physically as well as mentally scarred. Complicated, deeply politically incorrect, and very funny, he's my favourite Marvel character by quite some way. (He's due to get the big screen treatment, too, movie due 2016.)

(Update Feb 2016: the movie was released here in the UK on 10th February 2016)

At the commencement of Dracula's Gauntlet we find Deadpool spiralling toward London in an out of control helicopter. And here we go again with the Big Ben/Tower Bridge thing

And where the hero usually gets the gal, here's the gal running away from Deadpool when he takes off his mask to reveal his less-than-moviestar visage…

The drawing of Tower Bridge here seems to have been based on source material dating from the mid 20th Century, with almost industrial surroundings (it's all clean and shiny today).

There's also a great fight scene with a vampire at the base of the Victoria Memorial as a guardsman looks on impassively from his sentry box and, as with Spiderman, that third London icon, the red double decker, makes a cameo appearance…

(The three London symbols used in the Spiderman and Deadpool examples here just happen to be the same ones used in our own graphic at the top o' this blog.)

 Dracula's Gauntlet is out now in a hardcover edition.

A less knockabout Marvel title is Neil Gaiman's Marvel 1602 (published in 2003). This eight-part series sees Gaiman take classic Marvel super hero characters (mainly from the 1960s) and place them in Elizabethan London. A typical bravura feat from the wildly imaginative Gaiman. (My 7-year-old daughter is currently reading The Sleeper & The Spindle, his collaboration with one of my cartooning heroes Chris Riddell, for the second time since Christmas.)

The cover…

…is based on a sketch featuring the gunpower plotters of 1605, a London tale that will take us neatly on to our next stop with Alan Moore's modern classic V For Vendetta.

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