TDR 513: British Invasion: Black Orchid

A discussion with listener Ben Lyons on the British Invasion of comics focusing on Black Orchid by Neil Gaiman, Dave McKean and Todd Klein. (1:51:59)


Ben Lyons


1 thought on “TDR 513: British Invasion: Black Orchid

  1. Peter,

    Great topic! Great episode! So much to unpack. Here are some scattered thoughts.

    I remember distinctly ordering Black Orchid #1 from Westfield comics. At the time, you ordered a month ahead and that catalog had the Greatest Batman Stories HC. Because I was tardy with my order, I missed that. But I was buying all the prestige format books at the time and Black Orchid was a revelation.

    I think the art from McKean was more monumental than the story, though I enjoy that a lot as well. But this comic was unlike any comic I’d ever read, and unlike anything I’d considered for a comic. Issue #3 is so lush and bright, just amazing!

    Though I had to dive into back issue bins for much of the early “invasion,” I was onboard fairly early. In 1987, I got the first Swamp Thing trade (Warner Books edition) at my local bookstore, where I got my regular comics. It hit me so hard, I was immediately in the tank for Moore.

    I sought out Miracleman (managed to grab #16, which was my only issue for the longest time, until I found the trades), his Superman stories, Watchmen, got V for Vendetta when it landed, along with any & everything he wrote. It was a wealth of great comics that still reside at the top of my Mt. Rushmore, to this day.

    I remember the house ad for Morrison’s Animal Man, it was on the opposite page of the New Guardians house ad.
    I went with New Guardians…
    But afterward, I grabbed the first Animal Man trade, then finished out the run with single issues and continued reading from there. Great stuff!

    I didn’t get Sandman #1 either (though Sandman is one of my top 3 long-form series, all time), but Westfield offered a free copy of #8 if you just sent in a note asking for one. I did. And from there, filled in the gaps as quickly as possible, finding issues 1-6 at a comic shop in St. John, New Brunswick, about an hour from where I lived.

    I have a full collection of the original SANDMAN hardcovers along with most of those early statues, up to and including Destiny designed by Michael Zulli and the bookends also designed by him. I also have a full Gaiman library.

    My Alan Moore library is pretty much complete as well. I am missing a lot of that really early stuff—Maxwell the Magic Cat, Dr. Who, and some of his 2000AD stuff. But I managed to finally nab his “Outbreaks of Violets,” which was a giveaway at the MTV Europe awards in the mid-90s, with only about 100 extant. Might be the crown jewel of the collection, but I’d have to think on that.

    Moore, Gaiman, and Morrison were the trinity for me, at that time especially. From there, I picked up later Vertigo series like TransMet and Preacher (sadly, Shade never seems to have had a proper trade collection, or am I wrong?) and have followed McKean wherever he’s gone (the dude can freakin’ write too!).

    Also, another earlier British Invasion title that I appreciate but doesn’t typically get lumped in is Camelot 3000. The art from Brian Bolland, like McKean but in a different way obviously, was jaw-dropping. Such precise linework, just phenomenal. (obviously I was making notes through the episode and wrote this before the end, Peter)

    As for the discussion of Black Orchid itself. That was great. Ben had some fantastic insights to this series, especially with regard to the naming of characters and the use of color. Fantastic! I need to go re-read this series soon, with these ideas in mind. Thanks!


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