Wednesday, 11 December 2013


Alan Moore, Leah Moore, John Reppion & Shane Oakley
Albion (2006)

Knowing very little about this one, I'll take a wild stab in the dark and guess that Alan Moore pushed Albion in the general direction of his daughter and her husband in hope that association with the author of Watchmen would grease the wheels and get bums on seats, so to speak; roughly like when Master P started releasing CDs of his own kids rapping about life in the school playground. Albion is plotted by Alan Moore it says here, although the plot is such that it probably could have been scribbled down on the back of a beer mat.

Anyway, for what it may be worth, Albion digs up a host of forgotten cartoon characters from the pages of English comics published during the decades before POW! the comic grew up. I was a devoted Topper reader when most of these characters were in print, and only achieved a dim awareness of the Steel Claw and some of the others when a kid at school gave me a stack of back issues of Victor, Valiant, Hotspur, and the like. Even at the age of seven I found it a bit weird how so many comics remained grimly obsessed with the second world war, so I never strayed far from the pages of Topper, with the occasional Beano or Beezer or Whizzer & Chips thrown in for the sake of variety. Therefore I've never even heard of most of the characters recycled here, which somewhat deflates at least some of the point which I take to be the spotting of references, as it was with The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen by Leah's dad. More suspiciously, both being born in 1978, I'm not convinced either Leah Moore or John Reppion could have much investment in the likes of Robot Archie, Faceache, and Captain Hurricane, and consequently the whole endeavour feels like a bit of an exercise; and not a particularly successful one being as aside from a few chuckles, it's difficult to work out who is who and what the hell is supposed to be happening. Possibly ironically, Grant Morrison did a much better job when populating his Zenith strip in 2000AD with old D.C. Thompson characters. Here, the overly stylised art and the apparent reluctance to commit to any text which might actually explain what the fuck is going on results in something which reads like it doesn't quite know what it's doing and is thus trying far too hard in the hope that no-one will notice.

'Dad! Dad?'

'What is it, pet?'

'Tell us how yuz draws them canny good comic strips, like. I'm de'en one wi' our kid y'knaa.'

'It's a piece of piss, luv. Just don't tell no fucka what's gannin' on and it'll aal look reet classy, like one of them furrun philums.'

At worst, it steers perilously close to being a dark reinvention of the kind everyone and his milkman was churning out back in the nineties.

Why the fucking fuck would you try pass off half crack and half rat poison to a crazy-ass motherfucker like Franklin? You're such a blockhead, Charlie Brown!

Okay, maybe it's not that bad. It's actually fairly readable all things considered, but it could have been a lot better - or at least up to the standard of the original Janus Stark and House of Dolmann strips reproduced in the appendix of this collected edition, both hokey as hell, but at least confident and executed with an understanding of their readership; and Faceache most definitely deserved better.

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