London’s Dark – James Robinson & Paul Johnson

The introduction to this work, originally published in 1988, has David Lloyd (the V for Vendetta artist) telling us exactly what the comics medium needs right now and how pleased he is to have found a title that meets that need. It is undoubtedly an incredible piece of work. The testimonials from luminaries such as Terry Jones, Michael Moorcock, Peter Lovesey, Archie Goodwin, Ramsey Campbell and Jonathan Ross to be found on the back cover echo this praise.

The cover looks like an adventure serial from World War 2. The typeface, layout, art, 2d price tag and the fake wear and tear make it appear that this is something that has been dug out of your attic not purchased new. Initially when I saw it on eBay I thought it was an old comic. This attention to detail seeps right through the whole work. Period newspapers, cigarette cards and photographs have all been seamlessly blended into the artwork giving an authentic scrapbook feel to it.

The writing, the plot, and the characters all join together to evoke a supreme atmosphere and give you an experience that is as close to seeing the action for yourself as possible. It is an incredibly immersive journey. At its heart is a sophisticated story of love, war, life, death, crime and the supernatural with some beautiful characters. The dialogue is quite sophisticated. When you see the two main characters talking you also see their internal monologues playing out at the same time. This might get confusing but with some clever lettering techniques you know who’s who and it really strengthens your emotional connection to them.

The art is grainy black and white that is highly evocative of the period and subject matter. The style is infinitely fluid from double page spreads, to tiny thumbnails and even traditional panels all changing to utilise the best technique required. At one point when some lengthy exposition has to take place the art disappears altogether and you have a typed narrative spoken by one of the protagonists. This is a brave and necessary move to keep the pace flowing and not bloat the page count with endless speech bubbles and talking heads.

In short this is one of the finest and most courageous works I have read in some time and it is my pleasure to give it a Double Thumbs Up!

29/336.

Tomorrow: Crecy – Warren Ellis

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