Checking Out the Guardian Comics Special

So anyone living in the UK got a special treat if they bought the Guardian newspaper on Saturday – the Guardian Weekend magazine was a comics special. Entitled ‘Authors! In An Adventure with Artists!’, the magazine included 6 unique stories created by some well known writers and artists.

I was aware that it was coming out but I completely forgot about it until that evening when I saw Rich Johnston ‘unboxing’ it on Bleeding Cool. That wasn’t until about 8pm though so I was sure I had missed it. Fortunately it seems the good people of Edgbaston, Birmingham don’t know what they’re missing and I found the last one in my local shop. Huzzah!

I imagine it to be quite a rare collectible in time (it’s already on eBay for £12.99), so it would seem impossible to be able to enjoy the comics. Thankfully The Guardian has you covered! Just click on the title of each story below and you’ll be able to read it right on The Guardian’s website.

Onto the magazine itself. It was a pretty star studded issue. Once you got past the credits page, with a little blurb:

We get to the real meat of the issue. The first story was called Masks, and was written by Gillian Flynn – Author of ‘Gone Girl’, as well as ‘Sharp Objects’, and ‘Dark Places’ – and drawn by seminal artist Dave Gibbons – best known for his work with Alan Moore on Watchmen and the story from Superman Annual #11 – ‘For the Man who has Everything’.

A five page tale, Masks is an effectively chilling story of parental instincts taken to the next level, as a concerned mother turns into bully-vanquishing vigilante in a mask.

Next up is a three page strip called ‘Having Renewed My Fire’, written and drawn by American writer, editor and publisher Dave Eggers – best known for his memoir ‘A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius’, as well as being the founder and editor of ‘McSweeney’s

It’s a sweet tale of a Bison and his dreams, and very eloquently explained by Eggers in his essay that followed:

‘Thursdays, Six to Eight p.m’ (annoyingly not linked to on the Guardian site) is the story that followed, written by Audrey Niffenegger – probably best known for her novel ‘The Time-Traveller’s Wife, which was made into a movie starring Eric Bana and Rachel McAdams – and illustrated by Eddie Campbell – artist of From Hell by Alan Moore, as well as creator of Bacchus, AKA Deadface.
A quirky 5 page tale, described as a ‘modern romance comic’ by the author, this is a fun and funny look at modern married life, and Campbell’s illustrations are fantastically unique.
The fourth story is an hilarious satire called ‘Art and Anarchy’, written by Michel Faber – Dutch fiction writer of ‘Under the Skin’ and ‘The Crimson Petal and the White’ – and illustrated by Roger Langridge – New Zealand comics writer/artist/letterer known for his work on Judge Dredd, Eisner nominated Fred the Clown, and recently BOOM! Studios’ ‘Muppet Show’ comics.
It takes the very funny premise that people like the US more than the UK because of their comic books – America has superheroes
And Britain has The Beano and The Dandy.
Even though Michel himself admits in his afterword that the story’s conceit has more comedy in it than truth, it doesn’t make it any less amusing.
Next there is the story ‘Freeforall’ – a 1986 short story written by award-winning novelist Margaret Atwood – known for many works of poetry and novels, including A Handmaid’s Tale and Oryx & Crake – which is adapted and illustrated by rising Graphic talent Christian Ward.
A chilling futuristic tale of a nation taking desperate measures to control sexual disease, FreeForAll is a fantastic short story and beautifully adapted here.
Finally the five-page story ‘Do You Hear What I Hear?’ rounds out the magazine, written by A.M. Homes – American novelist known for ‘The End of Alice’ and ‘The Mistress’s Daughter’ – and illustrated by Frazer Irving – British comic book artist best known for his work on Necronauts for 2000AD.
A mysterious and amusing tale, this short story tells of a woman who receives a visit from two men very interested in a phone conversation she had. An extremely ambiguous yet entertaining piece that rewards those with an imaginative nature.
And that’s it. A rare and surprising book that was made to celebrate the British Library’s upcoming exhibition on British comics (read an article by the co-curator of the exhibit – John Harris Dunning – here) it’s a fantastic way to discover talent previously unknown to you; to enjoy some truly creative collaborations or just read some great comics. Hope you enjoyed them!

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