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WAITING FOR TOMMY
By Richard Johnston

RICHARD: What's the solution?
ADI: I think the move towards a Graphic Novel economy is the most tangible solution, since these would be more substandard, permanent editions of works that really should be kept in print. We're still missing huge chunks of works from before the 1990s, which leaves a massive gap in the education of anyone who wants to become a comics creator, whether artist or writer. An artform is built on what had come before, and for new creators to not be aware of the innovations of their predecessors is a real tragedy.

It makes Comics that much more creatively impoverished.

RICHARD: What do you feel are the most urgent omissions at the moment? What history are we losing?
ADI: God... where do I start? There's a whole wealth of strip art by the likes of Milt Canniff from the 30s that's just breathtaking in not just the illustration but the storytelling ability, that younger creators don't give a toss about because "it's old stuff". There's loads of stuff from the 50s that's missing. There are Underground comics from the 60s to the 80s that's still largely overlooked. Hell, there's even loads of DC and Marvel stuff from the 70s that blow a lot of "hot, current talent" out of the water in terms of sheer talent, craft and ability. And don't get me started on the Missing History of creators who started out doing very good work for Marvel UK...

RICHARD: We're not talking about Bryan Hitch on Death's Head, are we? I must admit, I have a soft spot for Steve Moore/Steve Dillon Ablsom Daak - Dalek Killer that I'd like to have scratched again.
ADI: Yeah, that stuff, Alan Moore's Dr. Who Stuff and prose stories that featured Nightraven or Batman. Steve Parkhouse writing Dr. Who stories. All that stuff. Not to mention the lost art on "mainstream" weeklies like girls comics, some of which had some surprisingly dark and hard-edged stories in them with fantastic art and scripting.

RICHARD: Well, they often had the likes of Judge Dredd's Alan Grant and John Wagner writing them... now there's a crossover to see. Bunty Versus Mean Machine. Do you reckon there's a modern market for this kind of material?
ADI: There's always a market for good stories, I think. The bottom line, alas, is marketing. If you let the readers know it's out there, they'll buy it. Look at the current insane success of Manga in mainstream bookshops. Or the fact that the new Bilal graphic novel just came out in France and has sold 430,000 copies in France alone. Readers want stories that surprise them and blow their heads open. That's the least storytellers of any medium should be doing.


PLANETARY: ALL OVER THE WORLD TPB

RICHARD: Is that a cultural thing? Do you believe there could be that market for anglophone comics again? And is a 'He Reads Comics' style campaign helpful - or hurtful?
ADI: I don't think the campaign could hurt, as long as there isn't a whiff of desperation or special pleading about it. I think the market for anglophone comics is out there, you just have to get the people with the money to actually make people know these things are out there, and then improve the distribution so they can be bought anywhere, not just in comics shops.

RICHARD: This is fairly Comics 101 stuff, people have been talking about this for a decade. There doesn't really seem to be many steps taken towards that goal. Is the money or the will really there in comics anymore?
ADI: The money and the will are in *Manga*, since it's a new market that's opened up. The money and the will aren't quite there in mainstream comics, because the publishers feel a certain comfort in the niche they carved out for themselves when they created the Direct Market in the 80s, and to drag the Industry out into the Mainstream of Culture rather than just the Comics World must feel frightening, since Change is always scary. I know Marvel and DC would like to change, but they are large bureaucratic machines that take ages to implement new policies or decisions. It remains to be seen whether they'll finally put their money where their mouths are, since it's not just a Change in modes of marketing and distribution, but in content as well.

RICHARD: Are you exploring manga at all?
ADI: I've explored manga all my life. Growing up in Asia, I was exposed to pretty much every type of comics. I'd love to do Manga, but I suspect the infrastructure of the Manga industry might make things a bit tricky, since it's very much geared towards Japan and Japanese creators.

Pages: 1 | 2 | 3 Continued Here...

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