The Originals is a 160-page graphic novel written and drawn by Dave Gibbons the co-creator of classic genre-challenging Watchmen. Published in 2004 by Vertigo Comics, the sci-fi story deals with two hover-bike gangs resembling the Mods and Rockers of the 1960s/70s in the UK and presented so well already in the 1979 Franc Roddam film Quadrophenia.
Dave Gibbons is an English comic book writer and artist born in 1949, and best known for his collaborations with writer Alan Moore and work on 2000 AD one of my favourite comics growing up in the Eighties in the UK.
The Originals unfortunately has very little original to say about gang rivalries, growing up in a depressed city in which drugs, sex and violence are the main preoccupations of the characters – two friends Lel and Bok – who want to join The Originals scooter gang, who hate the Dirt (the rockers). Despite it being set in an alternative history there’s very little science fiction content beyond the fact the bikes hover like the speeder bikes out of Star Wars and a problem with water pollution.
The monochrome artwork is great and the writing tight and concise. No complaints there, but I had the book read within about an hour and so was relieved to have picked it up for a paltry £3 while looking for Hilary Mantel books in a charity shop last Saturday. The story is so run-of-the-mill that it’s not going on my shelf with The Watchmen as a ‘keeper’ but will most likely be given back to the charity shop so they can sell it again and raise some more money for Cancer Research.
The Originals won the Eisner Award in 2005 in the ‘Best Graphic Album: New’ category. The Eisner Awards are given for creative achievement in American comic books, and are named in honour of writer and artist Will Eisner. I can only suggest that 2005 was a slow year for new comics and that while this might appeal to those aficionados of Mod culture, this sci-fi fan was rather disappointed.