April 12, 2013
Posted by Danny
Longtime professional acquaintance and friend Tim Pilcher is a kindred spirit in as much as Comics have defined his entire life. “Comics were undoubtedly in my blood from day one.” he proclaims, “I had ‘four colour funnies’ running through my veins before I’d even heard the expression. Cut me and I bled cyan, magenta, yellow and black. I inhaled the musty smell of old comics, as if they were perfume. I sweated Indian ink and I came in process white. It was my destiny to work in comics.”
Before we ever met formally, we had been at close quarters a great many times as he worked at the much-missed London comics shop Comics Showcase in the 80’s, in its best-remembered location, Covent Garden’s Neal Street. In the 90’s, Tim was fortunate enough to work for DC Comics’ mature imprint Vertigo as an editor when, for a few years, they had a London office. It was a heady time for Comics and, as Legendary comic book writer Grant Morrison puts it, Vertigo’s Blighty digs were “the comics equivalent of the Loaded HQ in the ‘90s. Vodka, mushrooms, E’s, sex, money, travel and the pure unleashed creativity of young people having a good time together.”
Now, in anticipation of Vertigo’s 20th anniversary, Tim has written a revealing and completely unofficial memoir of DC Comics’ legendary London office, entitled Comic Book Babylon: A Cautionary Tale of Sex, Drugs & Comics and he’s launched a Kickstarter campaign to fund the publishing of it. From the press release:
This is the candid, uncensored and utterly unofficial of story of DC Comic’s infamous Vertigo UK office, written by one who was the heart of the drug-fuelled, creative whirlwind. It’s the odyssey of one comic fan in pursuit of his dream job, becoming the first British member of the DC editorial staff, and learning the harsh realities of publishing life. Along the way he meets comics professionals and celebrities including Grant Morrison, Peter Milligan, Jamie Hewlett, Mark Millar, Garth Ennis, Philip Bond, Paul Gambaccini, Glyn Dillon, Jonathan Ross, The Spice Girls, Blur, Adam Ant, and many, many more. Revealing the crazy, halcyon days of the British comics publishing in the mid-Nineties, it blows the lid off the debauchery and excess that was part and parcel of the industry. When you reach such dizzy heights, there’s only one place to go.
“Comic book guru” and author Tim Pilcher said, “It was an incredibly exciting time to be in comics. We felt we could achieve anything at the Vertigo office, and things got a little crazy. This is the book I’ve been threatening to write for the past 20 years! I suspect the first people wanting to pick this up will be all the comics professionals, to see what I said about them. There should be some very worried writers, artists and editors out there!” The veteran of quarter of a century of working in comics continued, “I wanted to let the world know that the comics industry is not all geeky and nerdy. In fact it’s every bit as hedonistic as the music business. If Paul Gravett is ‘The Man at the Crossroads’, then I’m ‘The Man at the Centre of a 15-Car Pile-Up’”.
Sounds fantastic! There are three versions of Comic Book Babylon available: eBook (with additional images), paperback, and 200 limited edition hardbacks, with covers created by design genius and comic book artist Rian Hughes. “Rian’s outdone himself,” said an impressed Tim, “The punky/acid house colours perfectly reflect the rave mood of the times in the book.” Hughes has also designed a limited edition print and three “Sex, Drugs and Comic Books” badges as incentives. Tim is available for interview and questions. You can contact him via [email protected]. Comic Book Babylon’s website can be found at www.sexdrugsandcomicbooks.blogspot.com.
Impressively, after just a week, Tim has managed to obtain 85% of his target! However, more cash will mean a bigger print run for what sounds like a great book about a time in British comics that, personally, I am incredibly nostalgic for…! So, this is definitely worth supporting if you are able. The best of luck with it, Tim…!