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Author Topic: Luther Arkwright  (Read 2007 times)

AlexF

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Luther Arkwright
« on: 18 July, 2016, 05:13:16 pm »
So I’ve just recently finished reading Bryan Talbot’s ‘Adventures of Luther Arkwright’ (the Dark Horse collected edition). It’s the sort of comic that you just have to talk about afterwards, and I’m hoping to find a receptive audience here!

In short, it’s blinding. So many ideas, such marvellous art, weirdly compelling characters (some of whom are only in it fleetingly), and I suspect massively influential on a lot of British comics creators who read it as it first came out.

It’s also super dense and difficult to follow, to the point that I tried to let it wash over me rather than trying to stay on top of the overarching plot. I wouldn’t recommend trying to read it in one go, but I’d definitely recommend it.

Did anyone here read it in small doses wherever it was printed first time around? That must have been something both astounding and frustrating, as I gather it had a tricky publication history, to say the least.

For 2000 AD fans, there’s obviously a fair bit of overlap with some of the tone of Nemesis: the Gothic Empire (which Talbot drew, presumably hired on the strength of his Arkwright work). But I reckon there’s more than a passing love for Luther Arkwright in the work of Grant Morrison and definitely John Smith, to pick just two names (Invisibles, The Filth and Indigo Prime, I’m looking at you). There’s a staggering mix of politics, history and sex along with widescreen hyper-cool action.

Why isn’t it more widely known / read?

Tjm86

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Re: Luther Arkwright
« Reply #1 on: 18 July, 2016, 05:22:59 pm »
The Arkwright Integral edition is gorgeous.  Dark Horse did it proud with this edition.  Certainly I would suspect it is well known in these parts, not least for the creator.

I never read them coming out but do remember picking up the GN in the late eighties / early nineties and loving every minute of it.  Just after Talbot's Nemesis run and so much in the same vein in terms of art.  Certainly the story itself is quite dense in places but for all that, a pleasure.  Heart of Empire is very much a different beast but still worth the read.  Not read in one go though?  Personally I found it hard to put down.  Loved it.

Richard

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Re: Luther Arkwright
« Reply #2 on: 18 July, 2016, 05:50:31 pm »
It's an absolutely fantastic graphic novel, for both story and art. I got it after reading a review in the Megazine about ten years ago and thought it was great. The plot is quite complex what with all the jumping about in time, like the film 21 grams, but if you don't stop and try to work it all out, but instead just keep going, it all comes together and makes perfect sense in time to enjoy the final chapter.

I didn't have time to read it all in one sitting as it's quite long, but I spent all my spare time on it until I finished it. It's a masterpiece. It must have been bloody frustrating to read it issue by issue when it was first published though, as there were very long delays between issues, several months at a time.

The sequel isn't as good, but it's still fun and worth a read.

I've been meaning to read them again for a while actually. It might be time to get on with it...

I, Cosh

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Re: Luther Arkwright
« Reply #3 on: 18 July, 2016, 06:49:57 pm »
Why isn’t it more widely known / read?
Good question. I would think everyone on here would know and love it as it is such a fantastic piece of work. I have the three volume, Titan-style collections and must've read it for the first time in the late 80s on the back of Talbot's Nemesis work. Not sure why I don't recommend it more as, thinking about it now, it really is in the top tier of British comics. Perhaps its the different path Talbot has taken in recent years which discourages talk of it.

As you say it's very dense but that wasn't so unusual for the time. I particularly remember the whole ego-death and karmic rebirth sequence being a mindblowing experience for the young Cosh.

I'm not sure about a direct influence on Morrison though. I think it's more a case of similar interests and influence (Moorcock and occult esoterica in particular) but looking at it now, it's hard not to see a very significant debt owed by the life and works of Ian Edginton.

As mentioned by others, Heart of Empire is okay but not a patch the original.
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sheridan

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Re: Luther Arkwright
« Reply #4 on: 18 July, 2016, 06:57:56 pm »
I was lucky enough to be on board the first time it was completed (the Valkyrie publication, as opposed to previous editions where the original story didn't get finished).  I'm not familiar with the Arkwright Integral edition so don't know what gets included in there - does it have the ARKeology material which was published just after Issue 9 of the Valkyrie Press Arkwright?  That had a sketch by Grant Morrison, amongst other things.

Heart of Empire - entirely different but still worth reading.  Can't imagine trying to stop reading the Adventures if it's all available in one book - bit like Maus in that respect.

Just in case it isn't ARKeology (incomplete).

Frank

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Re: Luther Arkwright
« Reply #5 on: 18 July, 2016, 07:10:08 pm »
As mentioned by others, Heart of Empire is okay but not a patch (on) the original

Aaaah. I bought Heart Of Empire and couldn't see what the fuss was about.

Hicklenton was my first Nemesis artist* and I only knew of Luther Arkwright from adverts in back issues of 2000ad, so there wasn't a huge incentive for me to give it another go. I might try and track down the compendium, based on the above.



* like Sláine, whoever your first Nemesis artist happens to be will always be your favourite

Dandontdare

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Re: Luther Arkwright
« Reply #6 on: 18 July, 2016, 07:25:18 pm »
I'm surprised Heart of Empire isn't better loved - it may not quite match the first one, but it's still very good.

I like the way you can see Talbot's art visibly get better over the two series, and the obvious parallels to one of my favourite author's Michael Moorcock (who wrote the introduction in the edition I've got).

Hmm .. I think this may be due for a re-read!

Colin YNWA

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Re: Luther Arkwright
« Reply #7 on: 18 July, 2016, 07:30:17 pm »
I got issue 1 of the Valkyrie series and tried it time and time again really wanting to love it but just finding it baffling. I think that put me off but its good rep meant that when I got back into comics (and tried it (issue 1) again and still found myself baffled) I've always wanted to give it a proper go as I'm told as you get further in it becomes less of a puzzle.

So I recently picked up both omnibusesesesesi in a digital sale. Alas my reading list being what it is I'm still to get to it.

Despite my previous failed attempts I'm really looking forward to it.

Tjm86

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Re: Luther Arkwright
« Reply #8 on: 18 July, 2016, 08:26:55 pm »
I'm not familiar with the Arkwright Integral edition so don't know what gets included in there - does it have the ARKeology material which was published just after Issue 9 of the Valkyrie Press Arkwright?  That had a sketch by Grant Morrison, amongst other things.

There's quite a lot of extras in the Integral edition.  Most were covered in the last Dark Horse printings.  Looking quickly at the ARKeology material, the answer is yes.  Quite a few of the sketches on the site are in the interview by Bisette.






CalHab

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Re: Luther Arkwright
« Reply #9 on: 19 July, 2016, 08:23:32 am »
Arkwright is brilliant, but I'm surprised so many haven't read it. I always thought of it as a "set text" for British comics readers. Maybe its erratic publishing history hasn't helped?

Mikey

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Re: Luther Arkwright
« Reply #10 on: 19 July, 2016, 10:18:31 am »
Yeah, it's a stunning bit of work and no mistake. The closest I've come to the same sort of absorption was when I was reading the Sandman trades - though I think Arkwright would stand up better in the long term for sheer inventiveness. I think it was out of print for a while too wasn't it? ISTR it was when I was looking for it in the late nineties, so that might explain why a lot of people hadn't picked it up as second hand copies were hard to come by.

And Heart of Empire is a different sort of beast. It's more straightforward, certainly an easier to digest yarn being way less dense, but the art and design are just lovely.
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Link Prime

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Re: Luther Arkwright
« Reply #11 on: 19 July, 2016, 10:26:20 am »
I got issue 1 of the Valkyrie series and tried it time and time again really wanting to love it but just finding it baffling.

I think you sold that to me Colin!

I do love The Adventures of Luther Arkwright, but for me Heart of Empire is the greatest thing since sliced pomegranate.


Link Prime

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Re: Luther Arkwright
« Reply #12 on: 19 July, 2016, 10:50:23 am »
I must admit, the Arkwright Integral collection does look very tempting. An upgrade for this material would certainly be worth the purchase.
Does anyone know if it includes the first Arkwright story ('The Papist Affair')?

It's included in the Brainstorm collection, the only time it was reprinted to my knowledge.
https://www.amazon.com/Brainstorm-complete-Hackenbush-underground-classics/dp/0950848719

Timothy

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Re: Luther Arkwright
« Reply #13 on: 19 July, 2016, 10:57:46 am »
I think I first read Arkwright in my late teens - which was after Talbot's stint on Nemesis - and I was hugely impressed with the art and the depth of the world-building. Heart of Empire impressed me less when it came out, but when I re-read the whole series earlier this year it stands up remarkably well. Although lengthy it seems very much an epilogue to the first story, and one which revisits much loved characters many years later to examine the changes. I don't know what a reader would make of Heart of Empire if they hadn't read the first book. I suspect they wouldn't get very far.

Hawkmumbler

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Re: Luther Arkwright
« Reply #14 on: 19 July, 2016, 11:47:15 am »
Man, I need to get me that omnibus edition...