This article originally appeared in Strangehaven issue issue #14, June 2002.
by David Hitchcock [Black Boar Press] $2.00 US/£1.50 UK
Newspaper [12” x 15.75”] 40 pages B/W; newsprint
The first time I saw David Hitchcock’s work was when he approached me at my booth at the Bristol convention a couple of years ago carrying a portfolio of art displaying pages from his Spirit of the Highwayman strip, and visually it just blew me away. I can’t remember whether I suggested that he self-publish or not, but eventually a graphic novel was published in a handsome perfect bound format by his own Black Boar Press. The only problem was that his delicately pencilled grey tone artwork was printed with an extremely coarse screen, which was surely a huge disappointment for the artist as it does not do his work justice. But the story showed huge promise and the subject matter was a refreshing change.
Undeterred, Hitchcock has bounced back with his second self-published effort, Whitechapel Freak – another historical drama, this time revolving around the Jack the Ripper murders. Like many, I wondered how Hitchcock could possibly follow one of the best comics of recent times – and arguably the best Ripper book ever – Alan Moore and Eddie Campbell’s From Hell. It was a brave decision, which has paid off remarkably well.
Whitechapel Freak is printed in a huge newspaper format and Hitchcock’s art is reproduced much better than in his first volume while his storytelling has improved enormously. Another smart move was to mark the comic at a very low price, and combined with the hype surrounding the From Hell movie, it has been a relative success; I understand that Freak has sold eight times as many as the average first issue independent comic through Diamond Distributors. I have to say that the typeset text and computer-generated word balloons are at odds with Hitchcock’s delightfully organic art, but I’m just nit picking what is a fine publication.
Hitchcock has shunned industry standard art style, genre, format and marketing and has started to build a body of quality, original work on his own terms. Good luck to him.