Nick Spender’s new comic book is a wonderful labour of love, and will certainly appeal to the kind of person who remembers rushing into the newsagents every week with thruppence for a copy of the Eagle.
This new ebook has been designed to look like a 1950s gravure-printed comic book – right down to the authentic library stamps – and beautifully recreates the artistic style of masters of the genre, such as Frank Hampson (who actually taught Spender in art college 30 years ago).
Although it evokes this historic style, the book is artfully constructed to transcend the period and tell the familiar story economically but accurately, with spot on details. Some of the frames resemble shots from the 1955 film, but the liberties with the truth taken in the cinematic release are not repeated here, which is something to be thankful for. For instance, there’s no nonsense about using angled spotlights to calibrate an aircraft’s altitude after a trip to a music hall. The real inventor, Benjamin Lockspeiser, gets the credit.
The comic book is sometimes underappreciated and dismissed as a method of imparting information. This view has been challenged by writers like Scott McCloud, whose book Understanding Comics should be read by anyone interested in modern communication methods. In McCloud’s words, comics offer tremendous resources to the writer and artist: ‘range and versatility with all the potential imagery of film and painting plus the intimacy of the written word’.
In the hands of a true creative comic book artist like Nick Spender a single frame can say as much as a page of a printed book. This is what makes this work such a great success, and why it is highly recommended.
It’s available as a Kindle ebook, but you really need a colour ebook reader, or an iPad, to do it justice. A printed version would be even better, and would be a terrific addition to the bookshelves of anyone with an interest in this endlessly fascinating story.