Do you miss Deadline? Then you won’t want to miss Missed Deadline, the new anthology reviving the spirit of the old
Deadline was a magazine that defined the independent British comics scenes in the late ’80s and ’90s. Hewlett and Martin’s Tank Girl debuted in its pages, and it launched the careers of many creators including Philip Bond and Nick Abadzis. Its editors, Brett Ewins and Steve Dillon, were major players in the industry. Deadline ended in 1995 but from 2017, Missed Deadline will take its place.
“The long-term goal was always to bring Deadline back for the modern generation, with a 50/50 split of new and old creators,” its creative director Jessica Kemp tells Comic Heroes, “but for many years this just seemed to be impossible in terms of manpower and financial outlay, not to mention time.
“We started Missed Deadline as a collective for several members of the group including, Damian James Schofield, Kerensa Creswell-Bryant and a few others to work as a collective at cons and for comics publishers over three years ago now,” Kemp explains.
“We went on to work with David Lloyd on Aces Weekly, programmed the first comics stream for Nine Worlds and wrote and/or drew for Spindle Magazine, SFX, Bleeding Cool and others under the collective’s name.”
The motive for creating a new British comics anthology in this mould? “It’s a genuine love for the original magazine and all its creators, many of whom inspired us all to work in comics and become writers/artist and now publishers. We all felt a genuine loss when Deadline disappeared from the shelves. When Brett Ewins passed we felt a need to preserve the good work that he did along with Steve Dillon and many, many others.”
This is how they describe the revived magazine themselves: “We are by our own admission ‘a magazine for those who just can’t be arsed in the morning.’ It will be full of the strips no one else was stupid enough to risk incurring legal proceedings by publishing and some frankly scandalous (if not libellous) gossip from the Slanda Panda. I can name those already featured on the covers we’ve released that include Shaky Kane, Jane Kane, Lindsay Pickett, Hal Laren, with a logo from Rian Hughes. We also have a cover featuring the face of Missed Deadline Coco Deville from Hal.”
Missed Deadline will launch as a preview edition at ICE Brighton this June with further details to follow. missedeadline.blogspot.co.uk
Joe Haldeman’s 1974 novel The Forever War remains one of the bestknown and best-loved science fiction novels of all time. Some 14 years after its original publication, Haldeman translated the story into a well-received comic series drawn by artist Marvano (real name Mark van Oppen). Out of print for decades, the series is being reissued by Titan in a monthly format.
The book tells the story of humanity’s war against the alien Taurans – a conflict that lasts not years or decades, but millennia. A veteran of the Vietnam war, Haldeman brought his own experiences to his darkly funny novel, which also makes head-spinning use of time dilation: whenever the human soldiers are sent out to battle, huge passages of time have passed by the time they return to Earth, and they find that humanity has changed in often radical ways.
When Comic Heroes asks him how it feels to be revisiting the project today, Haldeman says “It’s wonderful! Mark and I spent several good years on the project. Mark’s fun to hang around with and a good excuse to go snorkelling and canoeing. If I twist his arm, he might have a glass of wine.” As a selfconfessed comics fan “since 1949”, he says, Haldeman was thrilled to translate his story into the medium, describing the collaboration as straightforward but enjoyable. “I translated the novel into storyboard form. Then I refined that with the help of Marvano. Then we went back and forth a few times, further refining it.”
Marvano agrees that the collaboration was good. “We’re both easy to work with – though I guess a few people wouldn’t quite agree with that!”
So how does the artist view the book’s enduring popularity? “On the one hand, as a story, it still functions wonderfully well, after a quarter century,” he says. He’s not uncritical of his younger self, however. “My mastery of the craft has improved quite a lot during this same period, so the imperfections are highly visible to me. But that’s life. I’m still proud of the result.”
Despite this, neither artist nor writer was tempted to fiddle with the book. “That way lies madness,” says Haldeman. Likewise, he’s not tempted to revisit the setting for sequels. “It would feel ghoulish. That story was over with the last book, and shouldn’t be disinterred. I can write [new] things that are related in a metaphorical sense.”
But why has the story of The Forever War endured for more than 40 years? That’s simple, says Marvano. “It’s a timeless story, sadly enough. Mankind doesn’t seem to learn much from its past, I’m afraid. The Forever War will remain relevant for a long, long time to come...”
American comics legend Will Eisner (1917-2005), creator of seminal masked hero The Spirit and pioneer of the graphic novel, would have been 100 this year. Paul Gravett talks to Denis Kitchen, Eisner’s editor, agent, publisher, fellow artist and friend, about co-curating two major retrospectives, in France’s capital of comics, Angoulême, and in the city of Eisner’s birth, New York, with an impressive accompanying catalogue from Dark Horse. Comic Heroes: What drove Eisner’s lifelong dedication to comics? Denis Kitchen: Will had a genuine love for the comics medium and a deep faith in its potential long before any of his contemporaries. He was a true innovator constantly pushing at the boundaries of storytelling, layout and technique. CH: What were your goals with the Eisner exhibition in Angoulême? DK: Co-curator Jean-Pierre Mercier and I wanted to, first, provide a full overview of Will’s long career, with his earliest surviving painting, etchings and drawings from his teenage years, his Eisner & Iger Studio period, The Spirit, his army work, and then educational comics, leading up to graphic novels, the accomplishment he was most proud of. Within each period, we wanted to show the best examples and meaningful sequences.
CH: How does the Eisner show in New York differ?
DK: It was tough finding a “balance” so that each show contained excellent examples of Will’s work. In the New York exhibit, co-curator John Lind and I made a deliberate decision to include more art and stories where Will depicts the city itself. Likewise, there was one story about a World War I battle in France that logically went
We see a kidwith vision and talent take the form to new levels
to Angoulême. I also included more pantomime pages for France to help non-English-speaking viewers. Aside from that, and the New York venue being a bit smaller than the Angoulême Museum, they’re very similar in nature.
CH: What are the most significant and surprising items on display?
DK: The oldest surviving Spirit splash page, of The Spirit spanking Ellen Dolan, from 1940, is in France. It was the only art of his own that Will had hanging in his own home for decades. Both shows include extremely rare late 1930’s “Espionage X” pages from Smash Comics, which show Eisner developing the unusual perspectives and feathering techniques that would become trademarks of his Spirit work from 1940 on. For some, his later work on A Contract With God, which revolutionised the comics industry, will be most significant, or the didactic work near the end of his career, like Fagin The Jew and The Plot. CH: Eisner’s oeuvre is a masterclass in sequential art – what are the most important lessons it can teach us? DK: American comic books in the 1930s and 1940s were pretty lame. Even the most famous ones suffered from hackneyed art and predictable plots. With Eisner we see how an individual – a kid – with vision and talent could transform the aesthetics and storytelling and take the form to new levels, inspiring others from his own era and later to keep pace. Will would have been a legendary figure in comics for his work on The Spirit alone. But during World War II and later he developed educational comics for the army and private industry, an important field now taken for granted. And later still, in his 60s, he jumpstarted the modern graphic novel with A Contract With
God. Comics are regarded today as a legitimate literary and artistic medium and Will Eisner, probably more than anyone else, is responsible for that.
The Eisner Centenary Exhibitions continue at the Musée de la Bande Dessinée, Angoulême, France, until 15 October, and The Society of Illustrators, New York, until 3 June.
Above: Artwork by Jane Kane.
Below: Issue 0 cover (underlying Antman image by Shaky Kane) and issue 3 artwork by Lindsay Pickett.
The Forever War #1 is out now from Titan Comics.
Above and below: Titan is serialising Haldeman and Marvano’s comics adaptation from 1988 with striking multiple covers by modern-day artists and bonus material in each issue.
Above: The weekly Spirit newspaper section ran from 1940 to 1952. Various ghost artists and collaborators played a major role, but that still leaves a huge body of groundbreaking work by Eisner himself.
Right: Celebrating the innovative graphics and storytelling techniques Eisner developed in the course of The Spirit.
This page: Visitors to the exhibition in Angoulême, titled “Will Eisner: Genius of American Comics”, take in artwork spanning Eisner’s entire career, from the earliest surviving Spirit splash page to some of his last graphic novels.