Bryan Talbot is the man who invented modern comics. But you’d never know, because he’s one of the most unsung artists in the field.
Talbot’s Luther Arkwright comic started off in the mid-seventies as a pastiche of Michael Moorcock’s Jerry Cornelius character, but by the time Talbot had completed the series in the eighties, he’d ended up laying down the template from which Alan Moore, Grant Morrison, Neil Gaiman, Garth Ennis and the entire Vertigo line of comics sprang from. Talbot borrowed not only from Moorcock and the British New Wave (of science fiction) but also film techniques like Nic Roeg’s use of cross-cutting, ending up with a particularly potent mix of subject matter, characterization and technique that would inspire practically the entire next twenty years of “mature readers” comics.
(Warren Ellis on Luther Arkwright: “[It’s] probably the single most influential graphic novel to have come out of Britain to date… probably Anglophone comics’ single most important experimental work.”)
Arkwright is an albino assassin who drops out in the sixties, gets stoned, activates his psychic powers, ends up in a parallel England where Oliver Cromwell’s rule never ended, attains enlightenment in a tantric sex ritual, and is charged with leading a revolution against the brutal Puritan regime. Somehow it’s a lot more complicated and cosmic than that?