The UK General Election. Comic Creators Speak. And Warren Ellis Offers A Prize

Posted by May 5, 2010 Comment

Tomorrow is the UK General Election. All across England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland, voters will choose a Member of Parliament to represent the area in the House of Commons. The party that can gather a majority in the House will form a government. Except this year it’s not that simple. The incumbent Prime Minister Gordon Brown and the Labour Party are suffering a bit of a rout in the opinion polls, pummelled by David Cameron and the Conservative party. And it looks that on the back of Nick Clegg’s performance in the Leaders Debate, the third party, the Liberal Democrats are on a bit of a high. Which may mean no overall party in control of government. A hung Parliament. At which point it gets very interesting.

So what do the comic book creators of this United Kingdom have to say about it all? I asked a few.

Andy Diggle, writer of Daredevil

I always knew I was paranoid and cynical, but the MP’s expenses abuse scandal, coupled with the small matter of them starting a major international war in which hundreds of thousands of innocent civilians have died for no good reason, have led me to conclude that I’m simply not paranoid or cynical enough. I suspect a good swathe of the British public feel the same way — frankly disgusted with the whole lot of self-serving parasites — and wants to flush them out of Westminster.  I say we take off and nuke the entire site from orbit.  It’s the only way to be sure.

Paul Cornell, writer of Action Comics

I’m dreading any sort of coalition, or, worse still, the Tories desperately trying to form a minority government and then blaming the other parties for another General Election.  I’d like to see an outright Labour or Liberal win, but I’m not going to get it.  My bet on what might happen would be a Lab/Lib coalition, with the Lib Dems demanding a new PM for that to happen, hence Milliband in charge.  But the exciting thing is, there’s a renewed interest in democracy, and anything could happen on Thursday.  I’m going to be voting Lib Dem, because they’re the opposition here, otherwise I’d be voting Labour as always.  I’m a politics geek, I don’t think ‘they’re all the same’,
and I think that the televised debates, with their underlining of policy differences, and their rhetoric tempered by lack of audience applause, have started to show that to the general public.

Chris Weston, artist on The Twelve

Whoever wins… we lose.

Ilya, creator of the Mammoth Book Of Manga

“Kill ’em all…Let god sort ’em out”

Duncan Fegredo, artist on Hellboy

There’s an election?

Kev F Sutherland, writer.artist for The Beano

How does the comic-lover in me see the election? Obviously, working most memorably for the Beano, I’m in the arena of the pre-political. I certainly had no understanding of politics aged 9 and I dread the idea of any kid who has. Even aged 20 I was pretty clueless and spend most of the last 3 decade calling the result of every election wrong.

It is interesting to think how the characters in the Beano might vote once they grew up. And obviously it would make a difference when they grew up. If Leo Baxendale’s Bash Street Kids had carried on growing from their inception in Britain’s industrial north in the 1950s, then by the time they’d been first eligible to vote they would have all voted Labour, with the exception of Cuthbert Cringeworthy, Conservative, and they’d have ushered in Harold Wilson with a landsllide in 1964. (Thinks: voting age may have been 21 in 1964, so that may be slightly optimistic. Whatever, thru the 60s they’d have been solid Labour).

By the 80s, if the Bash Street Kids aged like humans, they’d be in their late thirties and they’d have seen many of their jobs lost to Thatcherism. The more self-interested, like Spotty and Roger The Dodger, might have turned Tory and be running small businesses to employ the rest of the gang. Cuthbert would be standing as the SDP/Liberal Alliance candidate and still losing to the Labour candidate, Toots.

So to today. The Bash Street Kids are all 65 years old and mostly still vote Labour as they’ve always done. Councillor Spotty and Roger The Mayor spend most of their time in Spain and don’t bother to vote, and Cuthbert’s political career never recovered from the rent boy scandal 15 years ago. Toots is standing down as Labout MP at this election. So it’s the Bash Street Grandkids who’ll be swinging this result. Spotty Junior went from boarding school to Oxford to the City & Roger’s kids are facing a House Committee for fraud after their involvement in Goldman Sachs, so they’re no longer local. From the success of Plug junior’s chain of beauty parlours to Wilf junior’s success as a pundit on local TV, to the Toots family’s dominance of local politics and Danny junior’s garage staying occasionally out of the red, the next generation are mostly aspirational and doing okay. Which leaves them torn between Labour and the resurgent LibDems.

My call for the Bash Street constituency on Thursday? A slim Labour win. As we all know, the rest of the country very rarely resembles Bash Street.

Gary Spencer Millidge, writer/artist of Strangehaven

I can’t decide between the Dalai Lama and Gandhi.

Sean Azzopardi, artist of Necessary Monsters

Not much to offer, not being a big political beast, so here we are.

My usual voting trend Is Liberal, even to the point of being a member and active (Briefly).

But this time I can’t do it. The televised  debate, hailed as a political breakthrough just seemed to fit in with the template of Murdoch entertainment fodder. It seems that politics in this country at the mainstream level seems to be stuck in a rut of giving the opposistion a good kick in the bollocks, and nothing more. This is wildly simplistic view.

For young people, the narrow vision of what’s on offer from the main partys must seem to be grim vision of the future.

Terry Wiley, writer/artist of Verity Fair

In this election I’m after a Parliament which is well & truly hung – and with the Lib Dems insisting on a change to PR for their cooperation.

First-Past-The-Post is easy for voters to understand, but can lead to grotesque distortion in the results – several scenarios currently exist wherein the Labour Party could come third in votes cast but still have the most MPs! I’d much rather see a heterogenous PR Parliament squabbling over everything than a huge-majority oligarchy passing whatever Daily-Mail-fuelled folly the PM dreamt up last night under a rubber stamp.

Ian Sharman, managing director of Orang Utan Comics

As an indie comic creator it’s hard not to root for the Liberal Democrats. They’re trying to finally make a major break into a system that has been completely dominated by “the big two” pretty much for as long as anyone can remember. This has been the most interesting election since Labour came to power in ’97, and in many ways it’s far more interesting, because that was always a foregone conclusion. This time nobody knows what’s going to happen, and there’s a chance that we could see a radical change in the political landscape in Britain…and us Brits don’t often do radical change.

Of course, an election isn’t all serious, and comic fans never pass up an opportunity to dress up. That’s why some friends of mine started a Facebook group for cosplaying supporters of the Liberal Democrats, urging people to vote in costume and post pictures of themselves outside their local polling station while dressed up. Check it out and, if you’re so inclined, join in the fun, and maybe we can put a smile on people’s faces on election day, no matter what the result is.

Harry Markos, publisher of Markosia

Rich, I will happily vote for the party who supports the UK comic scene by giving lots of grants, creating a specialist University solely focused on the medium, lowers taxes for publishers and retailers, and gives incentives to publishers and retailers alike that will allow them to make a living!

With this in mind, I will be voting for the green party and signing up as a member.

Tim Pilcher, chairman of the Comic Book Alliance

Personally, having been away for a week at SPX in Stockholm and generally avoiding the newspapers and TV, I’ve still managed to get ‘Election Fatigue’. I’ve lost count the amount of electioneering pamphlets that have been shoved through my letter box. Unfortunately, it looks as if whoever gets into power is going to be cutting arts funding, which will invariably make things harder for the Comic Book Alliance, so that hasn’t really effected my decisions.  I’m sick of being lied to and ignored by Labour—who have brought in more draconian laws against creative freedoms that effect comic fans and creators than any government in my living memory. But I’m not voting Conservative either, because I remember what they were like last time, and I don’t believe they’ve changed one bit. I would’ve voted for LibDems, but they are very poorly represented in Brighton. So I’m going Green this year because it looks like they are very likely to win their first MP seat here, and they’re not as bad as the other three main parties. Tactical voting on my behalf for real change and not the sort Cameron tries to harp on about.

Steve Pugh, writer/artist of Hotwire.

the real trouble with gordon  brown is that he’s just a chronically unlucky man. it’s almost a superpower. i feel bad for him, but we can’t have him in the country, pulling meteors out of their orbit, attracting tornadoes, killing all the bees. he needs to go live in a cave somewhere where he can only bring this stuff down on his own head. no, i want clegg to win outright…i’ve got this gut feeling that clegg’s wife might be comedy gold. smart, surly, and hilariously blunt. she won’t be an unctuous, simpering fame beetle like cherie. i want to see miriam gonzalez durantez holding sarkozy out of a window by one ankle because he was mean to her husband.

PJ Holden, artist on Judge Dredd

I’ve thoroughly enjoyed the election debates, been struck by how desperate all politicians want to distance themselves from being politicians and marvelled at the way the LibDems seem to have come back to life after election after election of being practically invisible.

On the other hand, I’m in Northern Ireland, where we don’t have any of the main parties (though various small parties have sworn allegiance to the bigger parties, at least while it suits) but we do have proportional representation and a wide variety of religious bigots to choose from on election day, so there’s that.

I intend to go out, vote for those people (in PR – you vote for as many people as you like, by preference) that strike me as being the most rational, calm and unbigoted and sit back and watch them lose the election.

(I’m also hoping that you people in England vote smart and ensure a hung parliament)

Tony Lee, writer of Pride And Prjudice And Zombies: The Graphic Novel

I’m forty this year, which means that I was nine years old when Margaret Thatcher came to power. And I was twenty four or so when her legacy was finally removed. Growing up in comics, I took my political views from what I read. John Constantine was my political commentator and I too stood with the crowds that protested the Poll Tax – although further back that that particular, trenchcoat wearing anarchist did. My parents kept their voting habits to themselves, but I remember that my Mum was a Liberal Democrat, but when I was old enough I voted Labour instead. And they lost. Thatcher was still in, her third term of office. But I kept the faith and the next time I voted ‘New’ Labour. And we won.

Since I was able to vote, I have always voted Labour, but the Labour of today isn’t the ‘New Labour’ that told us that things were going to get better sixteen years ago. Gordon Brown has been an unelected Prime Minister for three years now, the MP’s expenses claims have given everyone a bitter taste in their mouth and all Brown seems to do is go ‘oh, but I have all these plans! It’s okay, I can fix what the last guy did‘, forgetting that the last guy was actually him.

David Cameron is the alternative, the Tories state. And to many people he’s the one they’re moving to, as he ‘can’t be worse than Gordon, right?’ He might be. He might not. But until he takes power, we’ll never know. He could be a smiling plastic face of pure evil. He might actually be a man who wants to change.

And then there’s Nick Clegg. The little train that could. He blasted his way into the election forefront by actually being clever, intelligent and seemingly honest during the three televised debates. He’s turned the Lib Dems from the party that people go ‘Oh yeah, and them’ to a party that in the polls briefly knocked Labour into third place, and there’s not much between all three at the moment.

So who will I vote for? As I write this I honestly don’t know. Clegg wins my personality vote but I don’t like some of his party’s policies. But then I feel the same about the other two, as well. With Brown and Cameron it’s a case of ‘who do I detest the least’. It’s a tough call.

But there is one man I’d vote for. One man who came into the public limelight this year when he was one of the lone representatives of the people, as the government desperately tried to shunt Mandleson’s industry-dinner jollies funded Digital Economy Bill through parliament. As most politicians drank and ignored the debates, this man went to all of them, he even suggested amendments that would at least make them better, only to find himself shouted down by his own people. A politician who speaks his mind, who knows what the people want – and if I was in his constituency I’d be out there right now, knocking on doors for him.

His name is Tom Watson, the Labour Party Candidate for West Bromwich East and I beg you to vote for him.

Why? Because he’s the ONLY MP IN PARLIAMENT WHO HAS FOUGHT THE SHARK PEOPLE.

Don’t believe me?

Oh yes. So no matter who I vote for this election, I don’t care who wins. As long as Tom Watson stands tall…

Mark Stafford, artist on Cherubs.

Just moved place, and didn’t get it together to register to vote, so well out of this one. Have the feeling this is the most interesting but least exciting election of my lifetime. No-one seems to be voting with any great passion, but to keep the other buggers out. I’m all grown up now, and don’t believe in market forces anymore. Wish I could believe that the main parties felt the same. Gordon Brown now looks like an abandoned leather sofa drawn by Jack Kirby.God bless us every one. That is all.

Warren Ellis, writer of Astonishing X-Men

I will give a prize* to any UK voter who shows photo proof of a write-in vote for Prime Minister Batman on Thursday.

(* said “prize” may turn out to be, I dunno, old bits of my skin or something)

(Last Updated May 6, 2010 5:33 am )