Art Barrage | U.K. cartoonists feeling frisky

Art Barrage favorite Rob Davis has debuted the cover for his adaptation of Don Quixote Part Two. Davis' work on the first book of Cervantes' masterpiece was that rare treat, an adaptation that crossed from one media to another and still seemed fresh rather than redundant. This is because Davis is a creator of rare intellect and taste, with his blog being the place to see the amount of thought he puts into every project he embarks upon.

When I mention here that the U.K. is going through a Golden Age for graphic novel publishing, Davis has proven to be a key figure in its renaissance. Two of the publishers now regularly producing a steady stream of great books have worked with him, with Self Made Hero releasing these Don Quixote volumes (there's a collected edition hitting the American market in the not-too-distant future); the ground-breaking anthology he co-edited with Woodrow Phoenix for Blank Slate Books, Nelson, would surely have won a multitude of awards this year if it had been published by one of the big U.S. indies (no, really; if you haven't read it, click the link, look at that list of contributors, and ask yourself if it isn't worth a punt, you won't regret it).

More below, including another Don Quixote cover by Davis, and work by Jonathan Edwards, Rian Hughes, Etherington Brothers and more.

Nelson contributor Jonathan Edwards misreads a popular warning sign around London, extrapolates, and ultra-cute hilarity ensues.

The Etherington Brothers, among U.K. comics' better-kept secrets, produce amazing all-ages work. When the kid's novel Muddle and Win dropped into my hands at work a few days ago, I spent a couple of minutes just staring at the packaging job done by its publisher, the Random House imprint David Fickling Books (which also publishes the noteworthy subscription-only U.K. comic The Phoenix). Then the penny dropped: Hold on, that jacket's by Lorenzo Etherington! The teen literature blog Once Upon A Bookcase has done an in-depth process post about the making of the cover. A marriage of top-notch illustration, design, and typography.

Yet another Nelson contributor, Rian Hughes, has a new book coming out, and in the immortal words of Nigel Tufnell, what's wrong with being sexy? Hughes is a very distinctive stylist, and it's interesting to see him trying some new things in that gallery, including what looks to me like nod-and-wink tributes to Frank Miller, Howard Chaykin and Robert McGinnis.

The third publisher I always include in my chatter about the U.K. graphic novel-publishing renaissance is No Brow. It's a publisher that understands the medium is the message, releasing work that feels like you're holding a unique and finely crafted artifact even before you start to consider its storytelling content. Top U.K. art and design blog It's Nice That recently featured Kyle Platts' Megaskull. I'd recommend Platts' work to anyone who likes their comics dark, funny and gristly. Y'know, Johnny Ryan fans.

There's new episodes of that national obsession Doctor Who going out every Saturday for the time being. Mick McMahon is rightly revered by U.K. comics creators as the definitive Judge Dredd stylist for starters, and the penciler of one of the greatest ever Who comics, Junkyard Demon. He's recently posted some commissions at his blog, including a very timely Cyberman, a reminder of the days when they looked (and sounded) genuinely freaky.

And as a little tribute to Mick, here's another Dredd sketch tweeted by Rock Star Edinburgh's Ian McQue. The last time I posted an all-Brit Art Barrage, I included a sketch he did of Dredd's bike, the Lawmaster. Here's his take on the Judges uniform that's even more heavy-duty than the design Framestore came up with for the movie. And has very McMahon-esque bandy limbs.

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