The Originals by Dave Gibbons
Dave Gibbons (didn’t he try to be ‘David Gibbons’ at one stage, to be taken more seriously? I understand the dilemma – I’ve never liked the ‘Dave’ contraction myself, only allowing it in sport situations – but history and common knowledge will out, so Dave he is) is famous for his collaboration with the bearded wizard of Northampton, but he has created a lot more besides. His work with Frank Miller on Martha Washington, his writing (currently for the DC universe) and his work on 2000AD – he tries not to be tied down to his most well-known work.
The Originals is an original graphic novel created, written and drawn by Gibbons, published by the Vertigo imprint. It is unusual in that it is in black and white (and grey) – a strange choice in the modern comic book industry. It’s also an odd choice for a book that it set in the near future – the setting isn’t particularly necessary for the story, but it does set it apart from its inspiration.
Herein lies the problem – the book seems to be the story of mods and rockers of 1960s England, set in the near future (they ride hoverbikes), as seen through the eyes of a couple of characters. It charts the rise of a couple of wideboys into the local mod gang, and how one of them gets into dealing drugs to pay for a good bike to impress a woman. There is also a death and fights with the rockers and the choices people make. However, the story doesn’t feel like it needed to be told, or that it needed to be done via the medium of comics.
The story is well told and the characters well defined; Gibbons is an excellent storyteller, perhaps due to the skills of both writer and artist. His panels are clear and progress the story clearly, even if I have never fallen in love with his anatomy and faces (and I don’t know why, the number of times I have read Watchmen). It just didn’t grab me, and the echoes of Quadrophenia (if not the exact same narrative) make it seem less fascinating for some reason. Well crafted but not for me.