So I'm just back from a splendid day out to visit the London Cartoon Museum's exhibition of Target Doctor Who artwork, an excursion made even more enjoyable as it also provided the opportunity to catch up with parrot_knight for the first time since MBW in December. This exhibition has clearly been a labour of love for organiser Edward Russell, so kudos to him for negotiating the loan of some iconic pieces of cover art from collectors who (I guess) don't really have anything to gain by their generosity.
These originals display colours that I haven't seen reproduced before either on the original jackets or in magazines, and artists' signatures cropped out by the book publishers. This reproduction of Jeff Cummins' work uses a lighter blue background than the one the artist originally chose - and to my mind lessens the impact. Similiarly, the Wirrn's eyes and the background behind Tom Baker's face on Chris Achilleos' Ark in Space picture is more subtle orange and umber than the final version.
It was fascinating to see how the brief to the artists varied - for instance, Colin Howard's Attack of the Cybermen is landscape rather than portrait because the top part of the cover is a (I suppose) non-negotiable reproduction of the McCoy CGI logo. Jeff Cummins doesn't waste any time painting in a top part to his Face of Evil cover, so we have a gorgeous piece of art to look at which would look terrific on the front of a CD.
The revelation of the exhibition was the work by Roy (Royston) Knipe, who as parrot_knight spotted gets the reflection of a bleak Dartmoor tor onto Styre's helmet for the Sontaran Experiment. I loved the muted grey colour choices for the Android Invasion, set off by Styggron's pale green face and hands (cropped on the final cover.)
It's a shame that the Cartoon Museum was unable to source artwork by a current leading cartoonist, Peter Brookes : nevertheless it was still fascinating to see Chris Achilleos' new work for the latest Target reprints, To be honest I'm not sure they're among his best work - nothing as impactful as the blood red sunset over the Big Ben and the KKLAK of a Pterodactyl.
The main exhibition, a history of the British Graphic Novel, served to highlight my ignorance of this genre - I was particularly taken by the specimen pages of Montague Terrace, Gast, Strangehaven and Will Kevan's My Life in Pieces. Clearly some of the titles featured were worthy of an exhibition of their own - The Sandman was represented by two pages and one of Dave McKean's intricate creations for a photographic cover. Some of the connections made between the earliest British cartoons and their 20th and 21st century descendants did seem a bit tenuous, but I'm not complaining if it means the chance to see four pages of Ronald Searle's Capsulysses or H M Bateman's Getting a Document Stamped at Somerset House.