I don’t like Harrods. It makes me feel uncomfortable. It’s a shop for posh, rich people who think they are better than everyone else. Although that may be true, it doesn’t mean they should get to rub our faces in it. Therefore, I think that the only thing that could get me to step through their doors is the prospect of an exhibition of original comic book art.
There are no signs to direct you to the exhibit, and the store guide describes it thus: Comic Timing Artwork Exhibition. This doesn’t really suggest original drawings of comic book art; the first image conjured up concerns the timing of comedy (no, I don’t know exactly what sort of exhibit this would include, but that’s not my fault). It’s not a great name, and you would only know to look for it because Rich Johnston has been telling us about it in his Lying In The Gutters column for the past few weeks.
Descending the escalators at Door 5, you reach the exhibit: in the atrium created by the space between the up and down escalators to the basement. It’s not a large space, and you have to be impressed by the amount of artwork included in such a small space. There are even pages up on the column next to the escalators themselves, so you have to lean over (or walk backwards to maintain the same location) to view the page. This ‘gallery space’ isn’t going to win any awards for displaying art. (I didn’t take any photographs, but you can see some images here.)
However, all of this can be forgiven by the diversity of comic book art on display. The collection is made up of work by British artists, from the past to the present. As well as pages from The Beano, Viz, Look-in and even an Our Willie strip, there is an amazing selection of work here. I’m sure there must be a list somewhere, but here are some of the works I noted down:
- Two pages of Watchmen by Dave Gibbons
- The Killing Joke by Brian Bolland
- V for Vendetta by David Lloyd
- Captain Britain by Alan Davis (from the Alan Moore era)
- All Star Superman (double-page spread by Frank Quitely)
- Judge Dredd by Jock
- Jack Staff by Paul Grist
- Strangehaven (from Millidge)
- Judge Death by Frazer Irving
- Summer of Love by Brendan McCarthy
- Tank Girl by Jamie Hewlett
- Books of Magic by Paul Johnson
- Hellblazer by Sean Phillips
- From Hell by Eddie Campbell
- Slaine by Glenn Fabry
- The Filth by Chris Weston
- Tale of One Bad Rat by Bryan Talbot
The fact that this even exists is something to be happy about: a free collection of original comic book artwork in one of the most famous stores in the world. The exhibition isn’t mentioned on the website [EDIT: website no longer exists] promoting all the other events going on in-store, and the display is a little cramped, poorly lit and dismissively presented, and the information about the art could have done with some proofreading (‘An number of’, ‘terrible prophetic’, inconsistent use of italics to identify the titles of books – Rich, if you’re reading, I offer my copy-editing services free of charge next time you do something like this, and I do it for a living); however, it brings a smile to my face to know that drawings of Batman, Superman, Captain Britain, Judge Dredd and Watchmen are hanging on the walls of Harrods for anybody to see. Well done, Rich, for bringing it together.