Ian Gibson: Thank you for the comics

Ian Gibson's concerned that he's made himself out to be a bit of a grumpy old man. That's not the case, though - and here he talks a bit about why he loves comics


Thank you, thank you very much. Said with an Elvis drawl and a twitch of the lip. 😉

It’s time I shook off the mask of the grumpy old man of comics, as it doesn’t really fit all that well and has been chafing a little of late. So, before it causes any sores and blisters I’ll consign it to the bin.

I guess part of my reason for adopting the G.O.M.C (grumpy old man of comics – for those who are not good with acronyms?) was down to the fact that I’ve been at the game for thirty five years and in that time had my fair share of disappointments.

But casting aside the mask allows me to be grateful for the wonderful chances I have had: the creation of Halo Jones with Alan Moore; the development of RoboHunter with John Wagner; the chance to write my own series of Annie Droid for the Times and a string of other highlights that have brought me joy and even some recognition.

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As I said, I’ve been involved in comics for some thirty five years now and that’s a good long time by any reckoning. And the reason I’m still doing it is belief. I believe in the format. I believe that it hasn’t achieved all it will. And I want to be part of the growth and development of its future.

Where is it heading?

That’s for us all to find out as we enable and encourage it to grow. The comics industry has seen bad times. But it has also seen great times!

Golden and Silver Ages are common descriptions for eras in the growth of comics from its origins back around the start of the 20th Century. The current infiltration of film interest into the comic world is a possible stepping stone to the future, and if so that future could be very bright. It could also be a diversion from where comics belong. But that is what we’ll have to discover on this voyage.

Maybe we need to understand better what comics are?

Comics are more than just glossy ‘pamphlets’.

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Comics are the combination of words with pictures; both telling a story, and sometimes different stories that can complement each other in the reader’s understanding of the message.

Comics are also a wonderful form of ‘portable’ entertainment. No need of a power supply to get them to work!

We have great icons in the medium. Genius like the wonderful Flash Gordon by Alex Raymond where the captions were written beneath the images; innovators like the creator of Little Nemo, Winsor McCay, who was, I believe, the first to use ‘speech bubbles’ contained within the frame of the image, and you can see how he gained more confidence with the concept as his stories progressed and the speech balloon evolved; artists like Gene Colan who broke down the format of regular panel constraints to create dynamic layouts with dramatic effect; and of course: Jack King Kirby, who created wonderful worlds of super Gods and super beings – modern myths from a vibrant imagination: The New Gods! What a man!

We have a great history already in the mere century of comics. I am sure there is more to come. I am grateful to have been part of it. And I am praying that there is better still in store.

So, for the thirty five years I’ve enjoyed in comics: thank you!

Ian Gibson, long-time artist on Judge Dredd, is the co-creator of Halo Jones, and has also drawn for DC Comics. We think he’s ace. Find his website at www.ian-gibson.com

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