Oxford, England is becoming rather a hub of comics with two enclaves—Rebellion, and The Phoenix, in residence there and several comic artists and writers in the vicinity as well. The bookstores there are comics friendly—Waterstone's has a healthy stock of "American" superhero comics and also indie publisher titles, and Blackwells Art and Poster Shop has a good selection too, carefully demarcating genres such as fiction and non-fiction. It was there that I picked up Oscar Zarate's The Park and Frederik Peeter's AAMA: The Smell of Warm Dust recently, both from Selfmade Hero.
But Rebellion books were well represented in Waterstone's and also in London's Forbidden Planet when I scoped them out, and reminded me again of what I'd noticed back home in the USA at my local comic shop: that the offerings of trades from Rebellion had grown considerably of late in shops who are increasingly willing to stock them. They are in demand at cons too, and the word is that Rebellion's trade editions are a markedly increasing currency stateside.
I'm in the UK visiting at the moment, partly because I lived in Oxford for 10 years as a student, from A-levels through my graduate degrees, and since I was back on adopted home turf, I asked if I might visit our friendly neighborhood Rebellion. They kindly agreed. What I didn't take into account fully is that there's a mini-apocalypse of flooding occurring in Britain right now. I should have realized, really, given that where I'm staying is directly on a river and out my window I can hear and see the roar of floodwaters day and night. I've been somewhat anxiously watching them rise against bridges and buildings and glad that I'm not staying on the ground floor myself.
Heading out to visit Rebellion, I suddenly found myself confronted with a good two to three feet of floodwaters, being pulled in a strong current and blocking a road way to the point that cars were turning back. I wasn't brave enough for that. Fortunately, when I called up Rebellion they advised me about a footpath that should aid me in my quest. I arrived at last, after crossing two canals on foot bridges beneath which equally alarming currents swirled, but safe at last, I met up with PR Officer for Rebellion, Michael Molcher and was greeted by a massive Judge Dredd statue. It was clear I was in the right place.
In a subtly humming capacious hangar a vast number of employees were busy at work on Rebellion's gaming development, like Sniper Elite. Rebellion's book lines – Abaddon and Solaris, and comic line – ranging from 2000AD to Judge Dredd Megazine and a slew of collected trades of comics appearing therein, though smaller than their gaming empire, still form quite a sizable "nerve center" at their home offices. The impressive relevance of 2000AD and Judge Dredd internationally right now has been bolstered by the studious production of collected trade editions for readers who may not be familiar with the anthology format upon which 2000AD was founded, but also in digital availability since weekly titles can be hard for Diamond to keep up with, unfortunately, particularly overseas. But there's no doubt that the popularity of Judge Dredd, particularly, is booming right now, as evinced at cons where t-shirts and collectibles are on the rise and prestige editions of books like Judge Dredd: The Complete Brian Bolland go like hot-cakes. On my visit, I became even more aware of the role that these properties are playing as comics readers become more international in their tastes and demands, and that it's quite true—Oxford is becoming its own "nerve center" for comics. Wonder what publishers might pop up there or relocate next?
Here are a few gems I was able to sneak away as swag: next week's Judge Dredd Megazine #344, 2000AD's recent Prog 2014, and oh, yes, the slated for March 2014 new trade edition of Judge Dredd: The Complete Case Files 22. What a coup.
Big thanks to the fine folks at Rebellion from Bleeding Cool for their hospitality during the watery apocalypse.