The PopCult Bookshelf
This handsome volume from Dark Horse collects almost all of the works done in collaboration by Peter Milligan and Brendan McCarthy. Those two were at the forefront of the “British Invasion” of comic book creators in the 1980s, and this collection shows why. No other creative team has so thoroughly blended the punk rock ethos with surrealistic psychedlica as Milligan and McCarthy.
Milligan’s writing has always been exciting and anarchistic. He may have followed Alan Moore in breaking through to the mainstream, but he did it in a totally different manner. While Moore reinvented the forms and rebuilt them with the hand of a master, Milligan turned over the table and set fire to convention.
McCarthy’s art was a wonderful post-Heavy Metal explosion of line and color. His storytelling is impeccable, but his actual drawing is almost revalatory. He combined influences such as Philippe Druillet and Moebius with American comics masters like Kirby and Ditko, and came up with a unique and influential style of his own.
This book collects their earliest collaboration, the everyman-as-superhero strip, “Paradax,” and continues to their final works together, “Skin,” about a British skinhead punk who was also a thalidomide baby, and “Rogan Gosh,” their take on Indian mysticism.
An example of the influence of this work is Jamie Hewlett, of “Tank Girl” and Gorillaz fame. He contributes a blurb on the back of this book, and it’s clear that his style was heavily inspired by these comics.
This is some breath-taking and challenging work. The two didn’t have a nasty split. In the early 1990s McCarthy drifted out of comics and into film work, while Milligan continued to mess with the face of comics in conjunction with different artists, most notably Brett Ewins (a collection of their work is coming next year) and Mike Allred, with whom he made Marvel’s mutants readable again in “X-Statix.”
This is a terrific collection of what were some of my favorite comics in the 1980s. A good addition to any library of the best comics of the 1980s.