Monday, 19 March 2007

Your Future’s Been Stolen By Your Past

Down The Tubes, a terrific site for anyone interested in British comics, reports that Knockabout Books will be publishing in July a collection of comic strips drawn by Rian Hughes, called Yesterday’s Tomorrows. Among other things, this will reprint Hughes’ Science Service (written by Down the Tubes’ editor, John Freeman), and his satirical Dan Dare strip, written by Grant Morrison, from Revolver magazine.

As you can see from these scans, Hughes’ work is informed by a strong architectural and design sense. I’d guess that he was strongly influenced by Dutch comics artist Joost Swarte. Like Swarte, he seems to mainly work in design these days, so it is good to see these strips again.

The collection’s title holds a double meaning. Obviously, Hughes’s science fiction styles borrowed heavily from modernism and mid-twentieth century poster art, and all but shout “retro” at us. But Yesterday’s Tomorrows also reminds me of a different long-gone past, full of optimism about the future, when, in those far-off days around 1990, it seemed that relatively sophisticated comics like Revolver, or Escape or Deadline, could thrive in high street newsagents. Foolish dreams!

Panels (top to bottom):
The Science Service, story and art by Rian Hughes, script by John Freeman, Atomic Comics/Acme Press/Eclipse Books, 1989.
Dan Dare, Pilot of the Future, script by Grant Morrison, art by Rian Hughes, letters by Ellie De Ville, Revolver 3, Fleetway, 1990.

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