I have called Mark Stafford one of the greatest cartoonists you have never heard of, though I have done my best to rectify that. I published him in my Dirtbag and X-Flies comics back in 1995, gave him advertising work on the video game KKND, he did covers for my Avengefuls comic books and for Civil Wardrobe. I always believe that at some point a major publisher will spotlight him and he will become one of the biggest creators around. Despite working with Bryan Talbot and David Hine on big projects, being made an artist in residence at the London Cartoon Museum, and being sent on international diplomatic cartooning missions, it hasn't happened in twenty years yet. But maybe this might be the moment?
Mark Stafford's Salmonella Smorgasbord is a book coming up from Soaring Penguin Press that gathers work from across his varied career in creating fascinatingly grotesque art.
Soaring Penguin Press is as much a fan of Mark Stafford's work as I am, with a story by him appearing in our their first publication back in 1997.
Best known as the co-creator of the graphic novels Cherubs! (with Bryan Talbot), The Man who Laughs, Lip Hook, and The Bad Bad Place (with David Hine), along with extensive work on other projects, Mark has twice been chosen by the British Council to collaborate on projects in South Korea. He is also the current artist-in-residence at The Cartoon Museum in London, UK. This new collection presents stories and pieces in a hefty 200+ full-colour pages, celebrating the grotesque imagination of one of Britain's most inventive comedic/horror artists. Salmonella Smorgasbord brings together many of Stafford's rarely seen short comic strips, alongside restored older comics, and even more recent design work for theatre posters, record covers, beer labels, and T-shirt designs—meaning there's plenty to discover, even for the most ardent fans.
Soaring Penguin Press Co-Publisher John Anderson and former neighbour of mine spoke about the collection, saying: "Mark's work deserves to be seen, and has to be seen to be believed. Believe me when I say that once you start on Salmonella Smorgasbord it's, well, unkeepdownable." Co-Publisher Tim Pilcher added, "I've been a fan of Mark's work for over 30 years and I'm full to bursting to be able to serve all these rarities in one literary repast. This collection is what his work has long-deserved and is perfect for existing gourmands, and a mind-blowing entrée for those yet to discover the twisted world of Stafford. Bon Appetit!"
Salmonella Smorgasbord is a 200-page paperback collection, UK £16.99/US $25.99, scheduled for February 2022 from Soaring Penguin Press and is "perfect for anyone with an appreciation of horror, comedy, and underground comics." Until then, you can look at more of his work on Instagram and see if you can see what I can see.