“Comics is a medium that isn’t going to go away. It may just now finally be coming into its own in the 21st century. In this internet era, there’s something very special about what comics do, no matter how much they get warped and changed by technology.”
More than 30 years after taking on the role of British comics’ Man at the Crossroads, Paul Gravett remains at the center of the global comics scene. We had an in-depth conversation about the growth of comics as an art form, the surprise of seeing local manga in Algeria, why he considers himself less of a comics historian or curator than a comics activist, how it feels to have been the first publisher of some of the finest cartoonists of our time, and why he should be called Paul “Mission To Explain” Gravett. Give it a listen!
“I’m probably slightly insane for wanting to go on looking and searching and questioning and provoking myself, trying to find stuff that doesn’t give me what I know already.”
Along the way, Paul and I also talk about his new book, Comics Art (Yale University Press), the new exhibition he’s curating for the British Library, Comics Unmasked: Art & Anarchy in the UK, the history of comics and his history within it, and the way virtually every lifelong comics reader’s home winds up resembling an episode of Hoarders. Paul Gravett is one of comics’ finest ambassadors, and it was a pleasure to talk with him during my recent UK trip. (Oh, and here’s a link to that Richard McGuire comic we effuse about!)
- Tom Spurgeon
- Roger Langridge
- Mike Kupperman / Ivan Brunetti
- Peter Bagge
- Maxim Jakubowski
- Ben Katchor
About our Guest
Paul Gravett is a London-based freelance journalist, curator, lecturer, writer and broadcaster, who has worked in comics publishing and promotion since 1981. Under the Escape Publishing imprint, he co-published Violent Cases in 1987, the first collaboration between Neil Gaiman and Dave McKean, three volumes of Eddie Campbell’s Alec between 1984 and 1986, and London’s Dark in 1988 by James Robinson and Paul Johnson. Since 2003, Paul has been the director of Comica, the London International Comics Festival. His very extensive bio can be found at his website.
Credits: This episode’s music is The Boy With the Jigsaw Puzzle Fingers by Karl Hyde. The conversation was recorded at the Hilton London Euston on a pair of Blue enCORE 200 microphones feeding into a Zoom H4n recorder. The intro and outro were recorded on Blue Yeti USB Microphone. Processing was done in Audacity and Garage Band. Photo of Paul Gravett by me.
Wow! Look at the links!
What I’m reading: The Spy in the Ointment, by Donald Westlake. I checked this book out of my local library around 25 years ago, and I decided to go back and check to see if it’s still there. After they computerized the system, they threw out the old sign-out cards, so there’s no sign of when I actually took this one out. But I think I was around 11 or 12 years old. It’s a hoot of a caper novel, so I’ll probably return to some of those Dortmunder novels that I was too young to understand.
What I’m listening to: Mind How You Go, by Skye.
What I’m watching: Not much. Watched the third episode of Mad Men (season 1), and am still sorta eh about it. I guess the aspect I find the most interesting is the way the female characters are all portrayed as stunted, crippled personae. But maybe I’m more fascinated by the way that, at certain angles, Jon Hamm resembles Steve Carrell with a much smaller nose.
What I’m drinking: I’m out of Plymouth gin, so it’s back to Wet by Beefeater.
What Rufus is up to: Having his Saturday night bath and smelling nice and fresh. Oh, and playing with his new hedgehog toy, which I’ve alternately named Hedge Fun and Hedgie Murat.
Where I’m going: Atlanta in a couple of weeks, but nowhere this week.
What I’m happy about: Getting out to the Giants game on Sunday!
What I’m sad about: The realization that I’m likely never going to see my copies of Grant Morrison’s Bible John comic, having lent them to Chip Delany a number of years ago.
What I’m reading: The July issue of The Atlantic (on my Kindle!). There’s an article by Fred Kaplan on Donald Rumsfeld that I found fascinating, because it looks beyond The Big Mistake and finds that Rumsfeld actually pulled off a lot of significant accomplishments as defense secretary. Also, Zenith, which I just adored back in college.
What I’m watching: The Whole Nine Yards. It occurs to me that, not only have I never seen an episode of Friends, I’ve never seen a movie starring any of the six cast-members, till now. Also, the epic Federer/Nadal match at Wimbledon. Holy crap, was that an amazing match.
What I’m drinking: Now that my local supermarket has a good supply of limes, I’m back to Martin Miller’s G&Ts.
Where I’m going: To sleep, once this issue is done.
What I’m happy about: That I was finally able to work a Terence McKenna/Timewave Zero reference into one of my Top Comapnies profiles.
What I’m sad about: Still too busy to be sad. I’ll get back to you next week on that one.
What I’m pondering: How to outsource next year’s Top Companies ish to India.