I was up in Harrow today, when a group of Storm Troopers and Jedi handed me a flyer for Calamity Comics down the road, reminding me that it was Free Comic Book Day. As I was already heading to the shop, I skipped over and picked up a volume of Fables (Bill Willingham) to go with a random selection of a few free issues. It was gloriously busy, full of a nice mix of demographics and the staff were as friendly as usual. I must make it up there more often.
Before going, I’d been to Waterstones to see what they had, and saw a few titles I might look up later (particularly Ramayana: Divine Loophole, by Sanjay Patel). It was by those shelves that I met a small child pestering their dad for an Avengers comic. Any Avengers comic. “Are there any with them all together?” his dad asked me. I answered to the best of my meagre knowledge, pointed out where they were on the shelves and suggested that they ask the people over at Calamity Comics for two very good reasons: they’d be able to recommend the best book to go to after the film, and also be able to suggest what book would be best for a child who looked about 5.
But I digress. Given the occasion, it would be appropriate to talk about comics.
The other day, someone was telling me how sad they were that Milligan’s run of Hellblazer, who is the current writer, had become rather dodgy in its treatment of its female characters. I’d stopped reading earlier in his run, having got up to the issues in the Scab trade paperback and not been impressed. It had a few things against it, but as a final blow: had it continued Leonardo Manco’s art run, I’d possibly have put up with the less good/interesting writing.
Mike Carey, Denise Mina and Andy Diggle all got Leonardo Manco line art. While I believe that the stories were well written and characterised, the art definitely, definitely helped me warm to them where I had been put off by other good writing but less aesthetically pleasing art. With full lips and expressive eyes, Manco’s faces are a thing of beauty.
John Constantine, Hellblazer (Mike Carey run), ill. Leonardo Manco