Wednesday, October 16, 2013

The Best of Milligan & McCarthy

Required Reading!
  On September 11th, Dark Horse Books released the long awaited collection of classic collaborations from the creative team of Peter Milligan and Brendan McCarthy. Branded THE BEST OF MILLIGAN & MCCARTHY, and produced under the Dark Horse Originals imprint for great creators and original visions, this omnibus remasters stories that stretch back as far as 1978's The Electric Hoax comic strip from UK music paper Sounds. This deluxe hardcover contains the complete Paradax, Rogan Gosh, and Strange Days–including not just Freakwave, but all the interstitial strips and Eclipse titles that predate Vertigo like Mirkin the Mystic and the supplements to the Paradax Remix. One of the most indisputably unnerving sequential tales of all time, Skin, is here complete as well. So are Summer of Love and Sooner or Later, which have been whispered rumors to most American comics enthusiasts until now. At only $24.95 it's quite a bargain, too.

The really wonderful thing about this collection is the succession of reminiscences that precedes each story, which helps to give context to the content. Without it, the sheer importance of the work might be lost on the masses. This was groundbreaking stuff, and actually would still be groundbreaking if it were all brand new. Most of the work produced in American comics in the late 1990s and forward owes a great debt to the work of these two Brits, whose bravery was seldom rewarded as much as those who followed. Milligan & McCarthy weren't just contemporaries of Alan Moore, Neil Gaiman and Grant Morrison, they were influencers.

Not for sale, so don't even ask!
Included, perhaps, as a preview of an omnibus to come, are several covers and interior pages from their Shade, The Changing Man reboot, too. Long overlooked, this was an engrossing, dramatic series that delivered on every level in issue after issue as it got less and less commercial, losing many an award to the predominantly anthologized Sandman. And the page with which they chose to end this tome just happens to be the color version of the page I've had in my own collection since April 1992.  It is the page that–more than any other, inspired the Pop Sequentialism exhibition and catalog, and therefore this very blog. The grounded surrealism of Brendan's illustrations and the deep melancholy of Pete's words embodied pop in the new context of narrative art. As a lifelong collector of original comic art, I've at one time or another owned multiple Jack Kirby, Neil Adams, Simon Bisley, and Todd McFarlane pages that I had to let go for one reason or another, but I kept my Shade page. 

I am greatly honored to be included in this omnibus, as Brendan saw fit to run a quote from me on the back cover, alongside incredibly important people like Gorillaz & Tank Girl creator Jamie Hewlett, Vertigo Editor Karen Berger, and Marvel editor in chief Alex Alonso. I have been lucky enough to meet my idols on a handful of occasions, and by some miracle of fate I now call some of them colleagues and some of them friends. I am humbled by Brendan's friendship and proud to have presented his work in a gallery setting more than once. Both of the men presented in this book are a credit to the industry they choose as their own, and both continue to produce mature, relevant work that defies classification even within their genre assignments. So don't be surprised if THE BEST OF MILLIGAN & MCCARTHY turns out to be only Volume One...