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Comics Unmasked: Art and Anarchy in the UK (paperback)

Published Date:
May 2014
British Library Publishing
Bibliographic Details:
Paperback, 192 pages, 288 x 245mm,120 colour illustrations
John Harris Dunning and Paul Gravett
Free UK P&P for orders over £15

It may come as a surprise that comics offer much more than meets the eye. Of course we all have happy memories of favourite childhood reading (Beano, Dandy, Eagle, Mad, Viz – the list is endless). But how aware are we that there is something inherently anarchic about comics? A huge variety have been produced over the centuries by British creators. It is a strong tradition that continues today. Some of the biggest names in comics - Alan Moore (Watchmen, V for Vendetta), Neil Gaiman (Sandman), Mark Millar (Kick-Ass) and Grant Morrison (Batman: Arkham Asylum) - are featured in this visually stimulating book. But there are many, many more. And it is the diversity of content and form, as well as comics’ ongoing relevance, which is a main focus. The seditious aspects of the comics tradition - adult, underground and ‘alternative’ material – is highlighted, alongside the superheroes who still dominate the scene. There is anarchy everywhere that you look!

This book has been published to accompany a major British Library exhibition, Comics Unmasked: Art and Anarchy in the UK (2 May – 19 August 2014).

From the introduction:
Surely everyone knows what comics are, right? Wrong! An apparently simple word, it covers a multitude of stories in all manner of styles and genres, forms and formats. Comics Unmasked lifts the lid on the underappreciated diversity of comics made in Britain. With a few deserved exceptions, we’ve deliberately de-emphasised the wealth and welter of much-loved, mass-produced comics output to mine instead less familiar and less formulaic seams.

In particular we have sought out comics that question conventions, challenge acceptability, provoke debates and sometimes court controversy. For this can be a subversive genre.

About the authors
Paul Gravett has written many books on comics, the most recent ones being Comics Art (2013) and 1001 Comics You must Read Before You Die (2011 and 2014).
John Harris Dunning is author of the acclaimed graphic novel Salem Brownstone: All Along the Watchtowers (2009).

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