Missing OutA column article, Fool Britannia by: Regie Rigby
The trouble with being determined to make a new start at the start of a New Year is that, in the early stages of that alleged “New Start” for all intents and purposes you’re still the same person, with the same knowledge and experience as you were last year. Which in the early stages was only last week. This of course means that I still haven’t read very many comics, I’m still hopelessly out of touch with what used to be my world – about which more later. First though there’s something I’ve just realised. It would seem that there’s a significant anniversary coming up in 2010.* The very first instalment of Foolbritannia hit an unsuspecting** internet on 10th of May 2000. that’s right. If I don’t get sacked before the Spring*** FoolBritannia will pass its tenth birthday this year. I’ll have been wibbling on about comics for a decade – more than 25% of my life. I sort of feel as though I’d like to mark the occasion and to do that, I’m going to need your help. You see, I can trawl through the archives and re-read what I’ve written in the last ten years, and I can trawl through my own collection and see what I’ve bought in the last ten years. But I have no real idea what mattered to you. So, over the next five months I’d love you to tell me. What were your highlights of the decade we have inevitably come to call “the naughties”?**** Which comics, or comics related events stood out for you? What were the biggest disappointments? And of course what are your predictions for the next ten years? I’d really like to know, because the only reason this column is still here is the fact that you lot have kept reading it, for which I thank you. Time for you to have your say, I reckon. Still, that’s all very much in the future. As I sit here in January looking out at my back garden under over a foot of snow*****, the warmth of late spring seems a very long way away. As noted earlier, after eighteen months of neglect I’m still pretty well out of touch with the world of comics, and the more I take action to rectify this****** the more I realise just how much cool stuff can happen while you’re not looking. As an example of this, I had absolutely no idea about the
guy who “Judged” people on the fourth plinth in Trafalgar Square. For the benefit of non-Brits******* I should perhaps explain that there are four large plinths in Trafalgar Square. Three of them carry statues, but the forth was never filled. In recent years this empty plinth has been home to a series of temporary installations and for a few months in 2009 it was home to artist Antony Gormley’s One and Other project.
Basically, for 100 days, 24 hours a day, Gormley invited anyone to stand on the Plinth and do whatever it was they wanted to do. There were protests, marriage proposals, musicians, and for one hour there was Andy Grannell , who dressed up as Judge Dredd to invite the people of London and the World to confess their crimes and misdemeanors and face his Judgement. Armed not with a Lawgiver and a Daystick, but a megaphone and a mobile ‘phone (you were invited to text him your crime) he dispensed judgement for a whole hilarious hour.
I’ve watched the video, and it was fantastic.
Most people probably had no idea what he was on about, but that doesn’t make it any less great.
One and Other is over now, replaced by a statue of Sir Keith Park, the man who led 11 Group, Fighter Command through the Battle of Britain, and so can reasonably be regarded as the man who prevented Britain from losing the Second World War before it had even really started. Possibly more deserving than Judge Dredd, so I can’t really complain, but at the same time, I can’t help thinking Old Stoney Face would make a pretty useful permanent fixture in Trafalgar Square – if only to control the traffic.
Of course you already know all about this because it’s been all over the internet and commented on by the likes of Rich Johnson. Me? I had no idea. You see what you miss when you’re not paying attention?
The big question now is “what the hell else did I miss?”
Had it not been for my best mate I would, for example have missed Bryan Talbot’s excellent Grandville, with its Tintin reference and anthropomorphic steampunk tropes. Fortunately she’s pretty tuned in and extraordinarily generous so in fact a signed copy found its way to me in time for my birthday a couple of months back. Hooray for friends, because it’s brilliant and I hadn’t even heard of it. Not even my normally ferociously on the ball comics pusher had brought it to my attention.
This of course means that I now have the horrible suspicion that there must be whole shelves full of excellent graphic goodness which I simply failed to observe. Every time I chat to a fellow panelologist I am consumed by the fear that they will start talking enthusiastically about whole series of books that everybody but me has read. In a very real sense it’s like starting out all over again. This is a scary prospect. I like the idea that I know about these things. In the past, although I’ve never called myself a “comics guru”, or anything similar, other people have attached such labels to me and I must admit I’ve always felt a warm little egotistical glow when they have.
On the other hand, catching up is going to be an awful lot of fun, so it’s an ill wind, as they say…
Just do me a favour. If you think there might be a classic that’s slipped under my radar in the last eighteen months or so, let me know.
See you in seven, when I’ll be re-examining one of my all time favourite characters.
*significant to me, at least.
**And to be fair, largely indifferent.
***And at this point I have to thank the editorial team here at CB for their generous and indulgent attitude to my unreliability in 2009.
****Or are we spelling it “noughties”? I suppose that would make more sense…
*****Note to readers in places used to getting snow. I live in North Yorkshire. Anything more than an inch or two is unusual. This much snow (it’s been on the ground for over three weeks now) is unprecedented. It’s like suddenly discovering you have a desert plain in Alaska.
******i.e, the more I pay attention.
*******Because I can’t imagine that anyone who was in Britain over the past year can have missed the project – even I noticed!