Although cartoonist Nick Abadzis might be known to most American audiences solely for his graphic novel Laika, the Swedish-born artist has been busy making comics since the mid-80s. And now, enterprising UK art-house publisher Blank Slate is bringing back Abadzis’ first major comics work, which made him a name to his European fans. Hugo Tate is the story of a man living his life and soaking up the eccentricities that normal people like you and I exhibit. Although the characters are little more than stick-figure men, Abadzis gave them a lushly drawn world and some true-to-life character moments that couldn’t be done anywhere except in comics.
“Over the years, I have been asked for this collection, many, many times,” Abadzis said in a message posted on Forbidden Planet’s blog. “It’s taken a long time to get together, for which I apologise to all those patient readers and fans of Deadline out there. I’ve been working on it, on and off, for years, digitizing and restoring the artwork. (Note to self: never use zip-a-tone again. It shrinks with age.) But this is to let the faithful out there know that the Hugo Tate book really is on its way. It’s going to be published by Blank Slate, an imprint whose output I’ve been really enjoying in the past couple of years. ”
Originally published from 1988 to 1994 inside Deadline magazine as a companion series to Tank Girl, the sole previous collection — a partial collection in 1993 called Hugo Tate: O, America — has been out of print for over a decade.Abadzis’ has posted some of his favorite strips on his blog, including the excellent “Bread & Liver” strip which you should definitely read.
Although Deadline is most fondly remembered for introducing the word to Jamie Hewlett & Alan Martin’s Tank Girl, works like Hugo Tate have largely fallen between the cracks and are just now seeing the light of day. Next on my wish list is Philip Bond’s Wired World.