Vertigo In Glasgow – Comic Book Babylon

timWe've been serialising the first chapter from Tim Pilcher's Comic Book Babylon on Bleeding Cool these past few weeks, to help promote its now-successful Kickstarter crowdfunding.

And as a thank you, Pilcher gave us a snippet from a later chapter, concerning Vertigo, Glasgow and a Chinese restaurant – when Pilcher had hit the (relatively) big time.

"April rolled around, and with it came GlasCac, the tartan-clad cousin of UKCAC. We flew up to Glasgow on Friday and checked into the Copthorne hotel on George Square, joining fellow Vertigo editor Stuart Moore, who was over from New York.

On the Saturday night Art, Stuart, and I took some freelancers out to the best Chinese restaurant in Glasgow, Ho Wong. The seven of us sat around a huge circular table. Here I was having dinner with Peter Milligan, Grant Morrison, Jamie Delano, and Dick Foreman, four of Vertigo's biggest writers at the time. This was it. I had entered the inner sanctum that all fanboys dream of! Having dinner with my favourite comic book scribes. All had fearsome reputations and I was terrified of making a faux pas, so sat as passively as possible, smiling and watching every word I said.

Milligan had classic matinee idol looks. A chiselled façade and coiffured hair, which was a source of much discussion amongst himself. It was foppish, short back and sides and long on top. Sans the hair gel, it was a quiff-in-waiting. He wasn't so much as vain, just acutely, crystal clearly, self-aware. He was a handsome bastard, and he knew it.

There was very little, barely a trace, in fact nothing, to betray his second-generation working class Irish/London roots. His rapier wit flashed with glinting steel over any dark conversation and he often spoke deliberately in double negatives, a not entirely unappealing trait. "Fucking Jesus!" he'd often exclaim, with a schoolboy's cheeky grin. When asked, "Are you meeting Karen?" at one UKCAC, he quipped, "Mmm. Dinner first. Maybe sex later." Like all writers, he was a perpetual magpie, stealing snippets of conversation and turns of phrase that would appear six months later in printed form in a script on my desk. You had to be careful what you said around him, he was a living tape recorder.

His acerbic wit and sharp turn of phrase led artist and long-time collaborator Brett Ewins to call Milligan the "Anthony Burgess of comics" but I prefer to think of him as "the Martin Amis of comics". However, I suspect Milligan sees himself as the "Peter Milligan of comics." If Art had a single best mate, Milligan was it.

Morrison, meanwhile, had waspish dark hair, an impossibly skinny body and the softest Glaswegian accent I have ever heard. He could be cruelly caustic at times and he scared me just a little bit.

Morrison and Milligan were cut from similar cloth. Both had a love of the absurd and had bonded sometime beforehand over screwdrivers (the drink, not the tool) hashish and the decadent lifestyle comics afforded them. They were young, handsome, feted and rich(ish) and they were going to enjoy it for as long as it lasted."

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About Rich Johnston

Founder of Bleeding Cool. The longest-serving digital news reporter in the world, since 1992. Author of The Flying Friar, Holed Up, The Avengefuls, Doctor Who: Room With A Deja Vu, The Many Murders Of Miss Cranbourne, Chase Variant. Lives in South-West London, works from Blacks on Dean Street, shops at Piranha Comics. Father of two. Political cartoonist.
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