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November 5, 2008 9:01 AM   Subscribe

Thirty years ago 'probably the single most influential graphic novel to have come out of Britain to date' was published, The Adventures Of Luther Arkwright by Bryan Talbot. Interview - Part 1, Part 2.
posted by fearfulsymmetry (23 comments total) 11 users marked this as a favorite

 
Why have I never heard of this? It looks fantastic! Thanks.
posted by grobstein at 9:29 AM on November 5, 2008


Luther Arkwright is great stuff - the beginning feels like some sub-Heavy Metal bit of incomprehensibility, and then things cohere into an awesome and trippy yarn. The sequel, Heart of Empire, is lush and beautiful and a great romp in its own right, but like Talbot says in the second page of the interview, it's a different story told in a different way.

Talbot's Alice in Sunderland is great fun too, highly recommended.
posted by Alvy Ampersand at 9:40 AM on November 5, 2008


Yes, 'great' is my word of the day.
posted by Alvy Ampersand at 9:40 AM on November 5, 2008


If nothing else Talbot's visual sense was a huge influence on people. I don't care much for this puffy, cartoonish faces, but the backgrounds! The detail!

Heart Of Empire is like a massive retro-future bong hit. It doesn't really matter if it makes sense.
posted by The Whelk at 9:49 AM on November 5, 2008


are there no standards for fpp titles?
posted by mr_book at 10:23 AM on November 5, 2008


Bryan Talbot - you can't go wrong with him.
posted by mdoar at 10:24 AM on November 5, 2008


are there no standards for fpp titles?

Relevant standards for FPP titles include:Those are the major ones I believe. Plus HTTP and HTML and stuff like that.
posted by GuyZero at 10:37 AM on November 5, 2008


The movie is currently slated for release in 2010, but BenderSpink doesn't list it in their list of current projects.

My personal favourite Bryan Talbot graphic novel is The Tale of One Bad Rat. I originally bought it in the early '90s with no idea who Bryan Talbot was (this was early '90s) - and have had to re-purchase twice.
posted by batmonkey at 10:41 AM on November 5, 2008


how in the world did that redundancy slip back in! agh! my queendom for 5min of editing grace!
posted by batmonkey at 10:42 AM on November 5, 2008


I'd read Sunderland a few months ago, and One Bad Rat a few years ago, without ever connecting the dots about Talbot and his influence on comix. Thanks for the clue -- I've just requested Arkwright from my library!
posted by not_on_display at 10:50 AM on November 5, 2008


NEEDS MORE STEAMPUNK

no just kidding, it looks interesting, and, to quote alvy, great.
posted by Mister_A at 11:02 AM on November 5, 2008


There was some class era sci-fi that was based on this same premise... paratime? Ah, yes, some googling reveals it's the same premise that H Beam Piper used in his Paratime series back in the 40's/50's. Anyway this graphics novel does indeed look cool.
posted by GuyZero at 11:11 AM on November 5, 2008


I've got to check this out. The book that influenced all my favorite British comics writers? Sold.
posted by Muttoneer at 11:24 AM on November 5, 2008


I don't care much for this puffy, cartoonish faces, but the backgrounds! The detail!

The first Luther Arkwright is AFAIK 100% Talbot, but the architectural backgrounds in Heart of Empire are this guys work.
posted by Artw at 12:01 PM on November 5, 2008


Luther Arkwright turned me onto comics, when I was a 13 year old geeky girl with no friends. It didn't help with the no-friends thing but it's one of my favourite escapes to this day. The detail in the history is remarkable. It's the first book that made me think of Cromwell as someone other than a heroic republican, which was sort of how he got painted in school. It's got rude bits, too.

And last year, I saw Talbot speak on a tour promoting Alice in Sunderland, which was very very interesting. Hearing how the layers of research fed together and the way in which the story of a city and the story of various people's lives become intertwined. That book is a sprawling multi-layered many-styled mess of brilliance - a hymn to a city, wrapped up in political history, anecdote, and a healthy layer of CS Lewis.

The title is a play on the way that the different parallel universes are referenced in Arkwright - it not only makes sense, it's also rather funny.
posted by handee at 12:09 PM on November 5, 2008


Thanks for this! I've never read Arkwright, but adore in a freaky huge way "The Tale Of One Bad Rat." Being that this apparently inspired so much of the sci-fi comics I love, I'm really looking forward to reading it.
posted by lumpenprole at 12:24 PM on November 5, 2008


STEAMPUNK

Well, it saw publication in 1989. I'd say theres an argument to be made that the publication of The Difference Enging (1990) was the peak of ficiton in a British setting with anachrinist technology/alt timeline that features a lot of wood and brass (AKA Steampunk). Obviously theres stuff after that like Anno Dracula (92) and LoEG (Began publication in 99 but with a development history almost as long and torturous as Luther Arkwrights) and then by the mid 00's it's pretty tapped out and quality and originality take a huge plunge.
posted by Artw at 12:26 PM on November 5, 2008


Luther Arkwright is the steampunk that it's ok to like. Though horrifically Talbot's next project appears to be ... furry!

>the architectural backgrounds in Heart of Empire are this guys work.

SMS pencilled some of designs for some (not all) of the more extravagant stuff that Talbot then inked.

Oh and you people now are so lucky to be able to read it in one go now. Back in the 80s when I first got hold of it Book One was rapidly followed by Book Two but there was a huge wait until Book Three... the number of times I stared at the final page of Book Two wondering: 'what next?'

Almost as bad was Heart of Empire in real time... I remember when the final issue came out reading it in the street outside the comic shop because I just had to know how it ended - normally I'd at least make it as far as the coffee shop.
posted by fearfulsymmetry at 1:32 PM on November 5, 2008


. It's the first book that made me think of Cromwell as someone other than a heroic republican, which was sort of how he got painted in school.

What school did you go to? I always got the "Cromwell had some good ideas but his Purtian Republic was so out of control that it'as easy to see why the people retreated to Royalism."

It was always taught, to me at least, as the English version of the Reign Of Terror. A few nuggets of honest, good, reform wrapped in horrible murder and violence.

Where is he seen as a hero? and why?
posted by The Whelk at 6:00 PM on November 5, 2008


Oliver Cromwell: Hero or villain?
posted by Artw at 10:04 PM on November 5, 2008


To answer The Whelk's question...

To be honest, our school history was minimal on the whole "kings and queens of England" stuff and concentrated more on WW1 and WW2 and how we used to live sending children down mines and into workhouses and so on. (This was South London of the 1980s - I have no idea what they do in school now, but I'd be happy to bet there's not much mention of Kings and Queens and Cromwell).

But when we did do the royals, we learned that Charles 1 was a bit of a geezer who took too much control, and then this nice bloke Cromwell grabbed it off him for a bit. Remember, I was 13....
posted by handee at 12:59 AM on November 6, 2008


ahhh, 1066 and all that. Gotcha.
posted by The Whelk at 5:21 AM on November 6, 2008




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