October 23, 2014

Dave Gibbons is UK’s new comics laureate


This man is the world's newest laureate.

This man is the world’s newest laureate.

In the last twelve months, MobyLives has brought you news of the new United States poet laureate, the new Irish literature laureate, and the short-lived North Carolina poet laureate. Here’s another laureate to add to the list: Dave Gibbons, who has been named the United Kingdom’s very first comics laureate.

Gibbons has all of the credentials you’d expect from a comics laureate, though I don’t really know what credentials you have in mind, exactly, because as far as I can tell, there’s never actually been a comics laureate before. In any case, he’s more than qualified: Gibbons has illustrated various characters for Marvel and DC Comics, including Batman and Superman, as well as Watchmen (with Alan Moore), 2000AD, and Doctor Who. Here’s how Time’s Lev Grossman described him in 2008:

Dave Gibbons comes across like a pretty regular English bloke, apart from his manic verbal energy and his aesthetically advanced glasses. But he is, in fact, a genius—one of the major comic book artists of the 21st century, or the 20th, or really any other century you care to name. Along with writer Alan Moore, he is one half of the team that in 1986 created the seminal Watchmen, a graphic novel so painstakingly crafted and darkly radical that its publication changed the superhero genre forever.

Did Patrick Modiano illustrate Watchmen? He didn’t. Though one time he did stare longingly at his hand, which was pretty cool.

Gibbons’s new title was announced last Friday at the launch of Comics Literacy Awareness, whose goal is to improve literacy and raise awareness of the “variety and quality of comics and graphic novels today, particularly in the education sector.” Gibbons will hold the title for two years, and the Guardian described his duties as follows:

[Gibbons] will spend his two-year stint, which starts in February, acting as an ambassador for comics and their potential to improve literacy. He will be championing the role of comics in getting children to read as well as visiting schools and attending training events for staff and education conferences.

An eminently noble effort to raise literacy and promote comics? Yes, this certainly is that. But what if it opens the floodgates for other kinds of laureates? What’s next, a creative nonfiction laureate? A metafiction laureate?

Actually, those would be great, too. May our globe cave in from the collective weight of our many literary laureates!


Mark Krotov is senior editor at Melville House.