Wednesday 14 December 2016

Panel No.34: Gillray

Daily Constitutional editor Adam Scott-Goulding continues his Cartoon & Comic Book Tour of London with a GUEST BLOG from London Walks Pen David Tucker!

You can catch up with all 33 previous "stops" at the Cartoon & Comic Book Tour of London blog here

Panel No. 34. Gillray

Perspective. Getting it into. And making connections.

So if you’re walking with us on either our Wednesday afternoon Old Palace Quarter walk or its Wednesday afternoon stablemate the Chelsea London’s Riverside Village walk – let’s make a connection, let’s get things into perspective.

Let’s spare a thought for James Gillray, arguably the greatest caricaturist of them all.

And why Gillray now? What’s the now connection?

The thing’s of course gone viral. It’s in bad taste. It’s cruel – “this presidential campaign is turning into a weekend at Bernie’s”, that kind of thing.

But it’s a church social, near beer compared to the 192-proof vodka that Gillray trafficked in.  In the words of historian Andrew Roberts, Gillray’s oeuvre rejoiced in “disturbing sexual and scatological imagery…scenes of buggery, groping, excretion and flagellation…”

There but for the grace of 220 years goes HRC.

And quickly, let’s do the connections with our two walks. Gillray was born and grew up in Chelsea. His father, a Scot, had been a blacksmith. Gillray pere joined the cavalry, lost an arm at the Battle of Forteney. He became a pensioner at the Royal Hospital. He joined the extreme protestant second the Moravian Brotherhood. He was the sexton as their burial-ground at Chelsea for over 40 years.

I think there’s a fair chance that Gillray senior’s Moravian outlook “influenced” his son’s turn of mind. The Moravians were convinced of the fundamental depravity of man and the worthlessness of life; their cheerful reckoning was that death was a welcome release from life’s afflictions.

Those notions surely grist for the son’s artistic mill. A mill that ground out, for example, the celebrated print that showed Pitt as “an excresence – a fungus – alias a toadstool upon a dunghill.”

And as for The Old Palace Quarter… Gillray lived at 27 St. James’s Street. He lodged over the shop of Hannah Humphrey, the sister of his first publisher. She was a maiden lady, 15-20 years older than Gillray.

Stuff happened. A proposal of marriage was extended and accepted. The wedding was to take place at St. James’ Piccadilly, Wren’s only West End church. We visit it on the Old Palace Quarter walk.

The wedding almost took place. Gillray took fright at the church door and ran away.

He came back to St. James’s, though.

He’s buried there.

Find 27 St James's Street here…

Saturday 17 September 2016

Panel No. 33. Sidney Paget & Sherlock Holmes

Panel No. 33. Sidney Paget & Sherlock Holmes

Sidney Paget's most famous work. As you can see I'm looking suitably shocked as Sherlock Holmes falls to his certain death at Reichenbach Falls… Or DOES he…?

Describe a superhero without using the words super or hero or powers...

fictional character with an outré costume who defends the world from evil.


being with gifts greater than those of the average human.


A crimefighter – often with a sidekick – possessed with excessive courage.

Looking beyond the heroics, I might suggest that all superheroes have a weakness, an Achilles heel. Thor, for example, is just a dodgy-looking roadie for a heavy metal band without his Hammer. Kryptonite kills Superman, as any fule kno.

Going a little deeper, what does the superhero says about the society from which s/he springs? Back to Superman, it's difficult to separate him from the great liberal ideals of the American Dream: is he not the ultimate immigrant? He has TWO jobs and he's assimilated with such passion that he's practically draped in the flag. Ditto Wonder Woman.

Then take Batman, the libertarian face of the same silver dollar. The right to defend one's territory by any means necessary. Slow to anger but ruthless in retribution.

In this respect both Superman and Batman are personifications of the United States, the world's supreme super power. The World's Policeman.

Take this role and add it to the list above - costumesidekickpowerscourage and one fatal flaw - and you have a pretty good picture of the colourful superheroes of Marvel and DC.

Now sepia-tint the picture. Remove the brash colours but keep all the other elements.

A courageous crime fighter with special powers, a distinctive costume and a reliable sidekick...

It's elementary, no?

Whenever I lead the Sherlock Holmes walking tour for London Walks"Sherlock as Superhero" is one of my running themes. And is Sherlock not the personification of the old Empire? All conquering, firm-but-fair, the ever-so-English gentleman-amateur.

Origin stories play a big part in Superheroland – the incidents that made the heroes super in the first place: Spiderman was bitten by a radioactive spider; Wonder Woman was an Amazon and daughter of the gods.

Sherlock Holmes's origin story is one of the most fascinating in all of popular fiction. In the common conception of the great detective, he is the child of many fathers, including the actors who have portrayed him on screen.

The starting point is, of course, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle who launched his first Holmes story A Study In Scarlet on the world in 1887. In terms of description, however, Doyle at first gives gives us only this…

In height he was rather over six feet, and so excessively lean that he seemed to be considerably taller. His eyes were sharp and piercing, save during those intervals of torpor to which I have alluded; and his thin, hawk-like nose gave his whole expression an air of alertness and decision. His chin, too, had the prominence and squareness which mark the man of determination.

In discussing Sherlock in graphic terms, by which I mean his look or image especially in the popular imagination, this gives us very little to go on.

It's at this point that I turn to Sidney Paget

If I may mix my pop-cultural metaphors for a moment, Paget is the Sherlockian equivalent of The Fifth Beatle – the third lodger at 221b, if you will.

Paget was born in London in 1860. His father was the vestry clerk at St James's in Clerkenwell. Having attended the Royal Academy Schools, he became an illustrator on the famous Strand Magazine, the picture paper published between 1891 and 1950.

It is through Paget that the famed deerstalker hat enters the world of Sherlock Holmes. It has become the great consulting detective's trademark. It first appeared in The Boscombe Valley Mystery in 1891…

… and has become such a part of Sherlock lore that a mere silhouette is enough to put us in the picture…

Baker Street tube station
Is there another character in all of fiction that can be conveyed so efficiently through illustration?

An often-repeated myth is that Paget used his brother Walter as the model for Holmes.

More widely accepted is the story that the original commission to draw for ACD’s stories had been intended for the aforementioned Walter Paget, also an artist, but landed in Sidney's lap in error. If that's true then it's the happiest accident in the history of graphic storytelling – for Paget, for Doyle and for generations of fans.

I remember drawing my own Holmes as a kid, during the school holidays when the old Basil Rathbone movies were played on TV. For this blog I tried to draw Sherlock Holmes again, for the first time in nigh-on 40 years. And when I scribbled my own version…

… I was surprised and impressed by Paget all over again

Following Paget's conventions (however roughly) I realised that when drawing Holmes one is essentially drawing a villain: the sunken cheeks, the downturned brow, the shadows thrown by the cape. The narrow eyes are pure evil. The domed cranium exaggerated by the cheekbones is The Mekon from Dan Dare and 101 mad scientists from strips and animation the world over.

With his illustrations, Paget instinctively tapped in to the dark side of Conan Doyle's famous character. In this, it is a most modern interpretation. It predates Frank Miller's landmark, dark reimagining of Batman in 1986 by 100 years. It's thrilling to think what Paget could have done in the field of graphic storytelling today.

The most recent screen Holmes, the cadaverously handsome young Master Cumberbatch, has breathed yet more new life into the character. And the hand of Sidney Paget is still present. His deerstalker becomes something of a running gag…

(Pic source The Personal Blog of John

Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman (Watson) feature in a recent comic book incarnation of Holmes, a Manga version of Sherlock A Study In Pink, published in English but with the convention of reading right-to-left still in place…

This English translation of the Japanese hit comic takes the TV script of Steven Moffat and Mark Gatiss and presents it in a highly-stylised comic book form by artist Jay. And the London locations are expertly captured…

Sherlock: A Study In Pink is published by Titan

There's also a lot of really tremendous fan art out there, inspired by the Cumberbatch/Freeman twosome…

… much of it exploring the nature of Holmes and Watson's relationship…

The much-analised gay subtext is an area thoroughly out-of-bounds to Paget and Doyle back in the late 19th Century. But liberated 21st Century Sherlock fans (and scriptwriters) are having a field day.

Check out LOADS more Sherlock fan art here:

Holmes is a natural comic book hero. As well as being a prototype for the 20th and 21st Century superheroes we know and love, he's also worked with Batman

… fought The Joker

… and even starred in his own title, all for DC.

But far and away my favourite of Sherlock comics has been the recent all-ages romp The Baker Street Peculiars written by Roger Langridge and illustrated by Andy Hirsch

The action takes place in 1930s London where one of the Trafalgar Square lions comes to life and runs amok through the city! Only Sherlock Holmes can save us now!

The Peculiars are, of course, an update of the Baker Street Irregulars, Holmes's band of street urchins who function as his eyes and ears in the darkest corners of London. The Peculiars differ from the Irregulars in that they drive the story and have a wider race and gender mix, much more accessible to the young modern comic reader. It's really lovely stuff, both words and pictures. The imaginative adventure rages through London from posh West…

…to wild East…

… and has some great villains (scary AND funny) and a wonderful twist on the oft-neglected Mrs Hudson. (I'll say no more! But you can buy the comic HERE or, better still, make an enquiry at London's Eisner-Award-winning comic book store Orbital Comics - their website is:

There are no less than six portraits of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle held at the National Portrait Gallery – four photographic, one oil on canvas (by Henry L. Gates) and, my favourite, a Punch cartoon from 1926 by Sir John Bernard Partridge.

Like Paget, Bernard Partridge was born in London, son of the president of the Royal College of Surgeons and nephew of John Partridgeportrait painter to Queen Victoria. In a varied career (he was also, briefly, an actor) he worked as a designer for Lavers, Berraud and Westlake, the stained glass window makers. You can still see their former building today in Endell Street, Covent Garden…

Holmes and Paget were no strangers to Covent Garden themselves. Here's Paget's illustration for a The Blue Carbuncle, a Christmassy tale with a very important scene played out at Covent Garden Market…

Partridge joined Punch in 1891, the same year that Paget joined The Strand.

It was for Punch that he made the portrait of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle that is now part of the National Portrait Galley archive.

It depicts the writer with his head in the clouds, dreaming perhaps of fame among the pantheon of the great intellectuals. But the clouds turn out to be merely wreaths of smoke belching from Holmes's pipe and the great detective is portrayed as a ball and chain tethering Conan Doyle's literary ambitions.

How attitudes change.

In the 21st century popular writers such as J.K Rowling, Ian Rankin and Val MacDiarmid are called upon to hold forth on the affairs of the day in the media with graphic novels discussed alongside Booker Prize nominees in the arts pages of the quality press. Doyle and Paget would have thrived in such a climate.

In terms of choosing a locating for this panel of my ongoing Cartoon & Comic Book Tour of London, I absolutely LOVE Roger Langridge's Cambridge Circus and Palace Theatre (pictured above) but given that this is an homage to Sidney Paget, I'm going to direct you instead to the great illustrator's final resting place in East Finchley Cemetery on the East End Road in North London…

He may well be buried there but, as we have seen, his work lives on.

Monday 16 May 2016

Panel 32: Wonder Woman in London

Daily Constitutional editor Adam continues his Cartoon & Comic Book Tour of London

If you are on older reader returning to comic books after a period away – which is my own back story, having rediscovered drawing through my daughter a couple of years ago – then you're in for a wild ride… unless you keep the following three words in mind at all times:

Rebirth, reboot, relaunch.

In the world of 21st century comic books it's back-to-the-drawing-board time-and-again with new artist/writer teams reimagining the famous names in superheroes on a regular basis. Back-stories are plundered and retooled; new-look costumes are drawn; fresh slants – social, political and personal – are found on the pantheon of characters.

Wonder Woman is no exception.

Which is why she turns up here on this blog.

These days Wonder Woman is a Londoner.

Keep an eye out for her on the Jubilee, Bakerloo or Northern lines out of Waterloo Station, she has a pad near Big Ben

It would seem that her 70 year career as a superhero has served her rather well, what with the cost of renting properties in central London ranging from £350 - £3,230 per week

Suffice to say that your average comic book creator is more likely to live in humble (and wonderful) Brockley than in a riverside penthouse.

But then, in a fictional world where the protagonists sit and have a chat atop The Gherkin

… even the price of London property seems reasonably realistic.

The first frame above is taken from Wonder Woman The New 52 by Brian Azzarello, Cliff Chiang & Tony Akins dating from 2011 in which the character's origins in Greek mythology are brought to the fore. It's a field of research that I've always been very fond of, and one that comes up as a theme when I lead my Sherlock Holmes tour for London Walks (more from Holmes on another day, in the meantime catch up with Daffy Duck's take ofthe great consulting 'tec HERE).

Before it all gets a bit high falutin', there's also a really splendid battle with Poseidon in the form of a sea monster in the Thames by Tower Bridge…

That's London Bridge in the background of the first frame and some nice detailing of the Tower itself as well as Tower Bridge in the third. And the "Bong"? Well that's the chimes o' Big Ben carried on what must have been a particularly forceful west-to-southwesterly wind to ring out over the London traffic nearly three miles away.

(Here we go again! Tower Bridge and Big Ben will soon have to pay rent on this blog, appearing as often as they have done. See also posts on Scooby Doo & Disney & Marvel & The Fantastic Four & Über & Danger Mouse.)

The author of this blog, nonplussed at all the kissing in his comic book

The image featuring The Gherkin (above) is from Superman/Wonderwoman by Charles Soule and Tony S. Daniel (2013) – in which WW and the Man of Steel get all kissy-kissy, have tiffs and do all soppy stuff. Yuk.

By which I mean their characters and relationships are explored in a depth never before seen in mainstream superhero comics.

Nah, I was righty first time: they get all kissy-kissy. Yuk.

Despite the kissing (yuk), it is a fascinating take on the most traditionally squeaky-clean of superheroes. And the most All-American - they are both practically dressed in The Flag, they even assimilate like only superimmigrants from Krypton & Paradise Island could.

Long before she acquired her flat in Zone 1 (does she have to pay congestion charge on her invisible plane?) Wonder Woman visited London on a number of occasions. You should also check out the great fun Sensation Comics No.9 (you can buy a digital version HERE) in which Wonder Woman takes on Catwoman at the British Museum, where the latter is planning to steal the Golden Fleece…

(I visited The BM earlier in this series, in Panel No.15 on The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen.)

Going back further yet, Wonder Woman swung by the capital about 2000 years ago when she joined Queen Boudicca, the Iceni Queen, in fighting the Roman army. 

WW's intervention sent the guys with the funny brush helmets home to Rome about 400 years ahead of their time.

Of the locations above, I'll chose the Gherkin to add to my Cartoon and Comic Book Tour of London…

Thursday 3 March 2016

Panel 31: This Is London by M. Sasek

Many of you will have packed the kids off to school this morning dressed at their favourite character from a book for World Book Day 2016

It set me to thinking of the books I loved when I was a child. And I didn't have to look too far to find the best of them. Every time I climb the stairs to go to my desk, I pass this bookshelf…

The colourful spines are reprint copies of the great M. Sasek's This Is… series of travel books for kids. We have collected eight of them – San Francisco, Paris, Australia, New York, Venice, Edinburgh, Rome and, of course…

Panel 31. This is London (1959)
By Miroslav Sasek Universe Publishing Inc

Until few years ago, if one had been looking for the work of the great Miroslav Sasek, then several long days trekking round London’s fine old secondhand bookshops would have been the order of the day.

No bad thing, of course. The forgotten art of browsing, particularly in secondhand bookshops, is one of London’s great pleasures.

This is London, however, is such a special book that it deserves to be widely available.

Thankfully, some bright spark came up with idea of re-releasing (and updating) these children’s classics – and now you can pick them up everywhere from independent book retailers (support your local bookshop!) to the gift shops at the big galleries.

Sasek was born in Prague in 1916, which is where he trained as an architect. But it is as the illustrator and writer of the wonderful This is… series of children’s books that he will be remembered by generations of young readers. How many children caught the travel bug from Sasek’s masterpieces?

The first – This is Paris – was published in 1958. My own induction into the world of Sasek came via This Is Edinburgh (first published 1961) which I borrowed from the library on a regular basis when I was a boy. The thrill of seeing the familiar buildings of my native city rendered in those long, tall, Cinemascope lines of Sasek's has never left me. So much so that, long before she could read or even hold a book, I bought This is Edinburgh and This Is London for my daughter.

Here we are six years ago, when Isobella was 3, using This Is Edinburgh as a guide book at the floral clock in Princes Street Gardens…


(I love that the gardener's ladder is in both the drawing in the book AND the photograph.)

This is London was first published in 1959. This is how the Times Literary Supplement of the day reviewed it:

“The colour is magnificent and uninhibited, the draughtsmanship brilliant but unobtrusive (one gradually realizes that these bold, stylized drawings are minutely accurate as well as true in general impression). The humour is characteristic and pervasive but always subordinate. The jokes are all pointed. Miroslav Sasek has drawn the visitor's London from foggy arrival to rainy departure. His book is a series of impressions, unrelated, one would think, but they add up to a remarkably complete picture of the modern city. The words and pictures are closely integrated; each has it terse style and humour.”

The affection in which Sasek holds his star – London herself – creates an effect akin to a great director eliciting a once-in-a-lifetime performance from a famous actress of whom her public thought they had seen everything: only to be delighted all over again with a fresh and new take.

Visit the Miroslav Sasek website at

The picture – and location – that I am choosing for this "stop" on the Cartoon & Comic Book tour is St Paul's Cathedral…

For World Book Day my daughter Isobella (now aged eight-and-three-quarters) is dressed-up as a spy. The inspiration came from her fondness for a book called Spyology: the Complete Book of Spycraft by Duggald Steer and also from a book that I enjoyed when I was eight-and-three-quarters (and still do now that I am forty-seven-and-one-sixth) that I recently shared with Isobella, The Big Book of Secrets (1977)…

Giles Brandreth is the author and I recently Tweeted him some belated and quite OTT fan mail for his book which contains excellent tips on disguises, secret codes and suchlike…

In typically jolly fashion, Mr Brandreth replied…

In the context at hand – cartoons and illustration – I'd also like to pay tribute to the illustrator of The Big Book of Secrets Louis Hellman.

Mr Hellman, alas, is not on Twitter, so his fan mail has proven to be less instant (my Tweet was instant, even if it did take 38 years to compose) but it is no less heartfelt.

As you can see from the cover above, the pointy spy cartoons immediately bring to mind the famous (and ongoing) Mad magazine strip Spy vs Spy, created by Antonio Prohias in Cold War 1961…

… and I've often wondered if that was Hellman's leaping-off point.

Google Hellman and you will find him described as an architectural cartoonist – like Sasek, Hellman also trained as an architect. Sasek's knowledge of, and passion for architecture can be seen clearly in the pages of his books and in his take on St Paul's above.

Hellman's passion and talent are no less impressive and, like the great Sasek, Hellman too has a playfulness, a wit, a joie de vivre that leaps off the page. It's a beguiling combo.

Being both a walking tour guide in an urban environment and a cartoon fan, I am particularly fond of Sasek and Hellman – meeting, as they do, at the junction between my work life and my hobby.

My favourite example of Mr Hellman's architectural cartooning is from his famous Archi-Tetes series – in which he captures portraits of the great designers in the style of their buildings. Here's Hellman's take on Wren and the building at the hub of this Cartoon & Comic Book Tour post, St Paul's Cathedral

You can buy prints of Hellman's work direct from his website at

Happy World Book Day 2016!

Here's how to find St Paul's…

Thursday 25 February 2016

Panel 30: Rock & Pop by Tim Bird @T_J_Bird

In my more naive moments, I like to think I'm in charge of this blog.

Fact is, this blog is the boss o' me.

Just yesterday I blogged about Mr Punch at the National Gallery and I was going to sit back for a week or two to let that one percolate. After that I was finally going to get around to a post on Wonder Woman in London. And then there are two totally fantastic new shows at The Cartoon Museum & The House of Illustration to review. On top of that I've got a thing-or-two to blog about Gillray AND The Simpsons.

Big plans.

And then I went to Orbital Comics on Wednesday and was blown completely off course when I bought this…

… my New Favourite Comic.

Rock and Pop by Tim Bird is about the how the commonplace is rendered elegiac by the presence of music.

It has my very favourite things in it: cartoons, music, London and, best of all, daughters.

For anyone who has ever loved a song, this lovely musical autobiography will strike a chord. I read it on the Northern Line yesterday and when I got off the train at Moorgate I immediately sat down on the platform and read it all over again.

It also features my local record shop Alan's Records in East Finchley!

And that's the location I've added to this Cartoon & Comic Book Tour of London


You can buy Rock & Pop and all of Tim Bird's other comic creations at his website

COMING SOON ON THE CARTOON & COMIC BOOK TOUR OF LONDON… Wonder Woman moves to The Big Smoke and TWO excellent shows at The Cartoon Museum & The House of Illustration.

The original Cartoon & Comic Book Tour of London posts first appeared on The Daily Constitutional

What's your fave cartoon? Drop me a line or Tweet @AdamScottG

Panel 29: Mr Punch at The @NationalGallery

Daily Constitutional editor Adam continues his Cartoon & Comic Book Tour of London

Panel 29: Mr. Punch At The National Gallery

I'm almost 30 panels in to my Cartoon & Comic Book Tour of London, and so far I've only glanced in the direction of Punch magazine.

Punch – Or The London Charivari was the leading satirical magazine in Britain from 1841 right up to the 1960s when the spikier Private Eye challenged its supremacy. Punch continued publication right up to 1992. A revamp lasted only from 1996 to 2002.

Punch has made cameo appearances in this blog – in my post on the great George Du Maurier HERE and later in the Christmas Special on Henry Cole HERE.

I will return to Punch – both in a dedicated post and as a reference point in future panels – later in the series.

But in the meantime it's a handsome portrait of Mr Punch himself at no less august an institution as The National Gallery.

Despite its prominence in the country's most prominent gallery – it is one of the first pieces on display upon entering the National – you may not have noticed it before. But it's almost certain that you have stomped all over it.

On the landings in the staircase from the main entrance - up the steps from Trafalgar Square and through the portico – there are some fabulous mosaics, the work of Boris Anrep laid in 1933 and 1952. Russian-born (1883 - 1969) his work can also be seen at The Bank of England and at Westminster Cathedral.

On the landing at the National Gallery we have four of his works –  The Labours of Life (1928), The Pleasures of Life (1929), Awakening of the Muses (1933) and Modern Virtues (1952).

These eccentric pieces feature Londoners famous and not-so famous in the roles of the allegorical figures – a Covent Garden porter, for example, represents Commerce, while Greta Garbo stars as Melpomene, the Muse of Tragedy.

In Modern Virtues the cultural,  artistic and intellectual life of Britain is celebrated. Churchill is seen fighting off a swastika-shaped demon. And it is nearby that we find Mr. Punch.

Mr. Punch is there to represent humour…

… with Britannia represented by Lady Diana Cooper (1892 - 1996) - writer, actress, society beauty. Britannia is clutching a copy of Who's Who - a joke that keeps on giving, this: Britons then were as obsessed with toffs as they are enamoured with celebs today.

In the mosaic Britannia is seen placing a crown upon Mr. Punch's topper. The lovely suggestion here is that humour is king among the modern British virtues

Oh, I do hope so.

The National Gallery can be found in Trafalgar Square. It seems almost insulting to post a map, but here we go…

… and remember to look DOWN!

COMING SOON ON THE CARTOON & COMIC BOOK TOUR OF LONDON… Wonder Woman moves to The Big Smoke and TWO excellent shows at The Cartoon Museum & The House of Illustration.

This post first appeared on The Daily Constitutional

What's your fave cartoon? Drop me a line or Tweet @AdamScottG

Monday 1 February 2016

Panel No.28: Cry Havoc

SNEAK PREVIEW EXCLUSIVE! The Cartoon & Comic Book Tour Of London blog usually appears as a series on The Daily Constitutional(the London Walks blog) and is then collated here on this standalone blog. But for Panel 28 I'm breaking with tradition for an outstanding new London-set comic book Cry Havoc.

For a post on how the Cartoon & Comic Book London blog first came about, click HERE.

Thanks for reading!

ASG London, 1st Feb 2016


Daily Constitutional editor Adam continues his Cartoon & Comic Book Tour of London

Panel 28: Cry Havoc

This Cartoon & Comic Book London blog sometimes takes on a life of its own. Time after time I sit down to blog about one subject only for another to elbow its way in and take over.

"Events, dear boy, events," to borrow from the quote often attributed to former Prime Minister Harold MacMillan.

(MacMillan was on my mind as I've been making notes for a post on political cartoons in readiness for the mayoral election later this year. The idea of Prime Minister as failed superhero starts in the UK with MacMillan in 1958, from the pen of London Evening Standard cartoonist Vicky

I'll be back to both Mac and Vicky at a later date.)

The post originally intended for this slot featured what is rapidly becoming a running theme in this series – Big Ben.

The world's most famous clock has chimed in on no less than EIGHT different cartoons/comic books so far – Deadpool & SpidermanThe Fantastic FourScooby Doo, three different Disney films and Kieron Gillen's Über.

The clock was due to strike nine in my assessment of the view from Diana Prince's new flat – she seems to have moved into County Hall, SE1…

… in DC's Wonder Woman The New 52 (visit the DC website HERE or pick up a copy at Orbital Comics on Great Newport Street WC2).

Yup, Wonder Woman's a Londoner now. I wonder if she pays the Congestion Charge in her invisible plane or if she just tosses the fines in the bin like the American ambassador?

Anyhoo… I'm holding the Wonder Woman post over until a later date but although the post has changed, the clock remains the same.


There it is again, ol' Big Ben

… on the cover of the outstanding new book Cry Havoc written by Simon Spurrier and drawn by Ryan Kelly. (Variant cover shown is by Cameron Stewart).

It's unfair to pass judgement after just one issue, but on the evidence here we're in for a white-knuckle ride with Cry Havoc.

This first episode is a fireworks display of great storytellingliterary and mythology references and exceptionally strong artwork. A particular nod goes to the colourists - Nick FilardiLee Loughridge and Matt Wilson. With the tale unfolding along three separate strands, each colourist creates a unique feel in their particular storyline.

The title refs Shakespeare; it is part set in London. It's got music in it (and a serious contender for the best comic book band name of all time – The Squids of Forbearance!). The narrative features supernatural creatures and the fantastic line, "I think I got mugged by a werewolf". AND there's a black ops mercenary mission behind the lines in Afghanistan.

Seriously. What's not to like?

Cry Havoc has particular resonance for this blogger as it features a location from one of my London Walks walking tours – Ghosts of the Old City. More, it features a direct reference to one of the London legends explored on the tour, that of the Black Dog of Newgate Prison.

I've visited the Old Bailey, on the site of Newgate prison, before in this series (in Panel No.14V For Vendetta) and that location features prominently in issue one of Cry Havoc. Artist Ryan Kelly has made some excellent choices in terms of angles on this famous London landmark. Big Ben doesn't make it into the narrative this time, but is deployed as an excellent setting device on the variant cover and London Zoo features, too.

But the London location I've chosen from issue one is Dalston.

Our contemporary comic book writers and artists are really putting our less glamourous neighbourhoods on the map (see earlier post, Panel No.10 on Kieron Gillen and Jamie McKelvie's The Wicked + The Divine set in Brockley).

Here's Dalston's debut in Cry Havoc, I'm loving the hipster gag…

… and Spurrier also adds some pithy comments about gentrification in his annotations.

Issue One is hanseled by a quote from Joseph Conrad's Heart of Darkness. And just like Conrad's tale, Cry Havoc opens in a seemingly familiar, almost reassuring London, only to quickly unfold into an unsettling, and thoroughly engrossing world of imagination.

We Londoners are spoiled at the moment for great London-set comics – the aforementioned WikDiv, the adaptation of Rivers of London and Metroland to name but three. 

Taxi to Metropolis? Gotham City? At this time o' night, guv'nor? You're 'avin a laugh, intcha? Cry Havoc is yet another reason to never leave London. Can't wait for issue 2.

Issue 2 of Cry Havoc is out in February, published by Image Comics.

*This post will go out on the Daily Constitutional on the 2nd February 2016

Coming soon on The Cartoon & Comic Book Tour of London… Vicky, Wonder Woman, Gillray and Comix Creatrix at the House of Illustration.