Welcome to part 3 of my extended look at the work of Captain Britain’s number one scribe and artist Alan Davis, using as a reference TwoMorrow Publishings book Modern Masters: Alan Davis.
If you want to read my first two posts on this subject about Davis’ early career and how he broke into comics click the appropriate link, otherwise lets move right on to part 3.
When we left Davis he was becoming an established UK artist with work for Marvel UK and 2000AD but dark clouds had begun to gather when Marvel UK changed editors and Moore and Davis began to run into money issues.
Davis explains it like this.
” Captain Britain began life on a shoestring budget with zero support or intervention from the management. As the strip gained attention and awards the money people got involved and the casual informal friendly working environment became professional… While there seemed to be no chance of any real profits from the Captain Britain strip the money people had ignored us. As soon as the possibility of money from reprints arose they were alerted to their oversight and tried to correct it retrospectively.”
Moore left Marvel UK and went to DC to start work on Swamp Thing which caught Davis by surprise as he was asked to take over scripting Captain Britain, yet again he sells himself and his talent short when asked how he felt.
” … I didn’t think I’d be capable of doing it. I was worried I’d make a fool of myself. ”
Anyway write he did and some excellent work was produced by himself and new writer Jamie Delano ( later to find fame with his stunning work on DC’s Hellblazer, one of my all time favourite comics next to Cap. )
At this time Davis began to draw Batman and the Outsiders for DC comics…
but I’m getting ahead of the story here, lets let Davis explain.
” I never sent any samples to DC. They had already begun coming to Britain to look for artists … it was during one of their head hunting visits that I met Dick Giordano and he eventually offered me the Aquaman mini series. ”
Alan even designed a new Aquaman costume which was never used but is pictured below.
However DC were so impressed with Davis’ work that instead of a small mini series the offer was changed to a major Batman book instead, yet again Davis was nervous but the series was a resounding success. Ironically this work blocked a more lucrative offer from Marvel to draw the X-Men but Davis’ work on Batman was getting noticed and he was asked to move onto the more prestigious title of Detective Comics.
Davis had a wonderful take on Batman’s world which I will let him explain.
” There was something of a Grimm’s fairy tale about it. The Joker, the Penguin, the Riddler etc are all such weird characters – straight out of Alice in Wonderland. The only way I can accept the basic premise is as a surreal, dreamlike construct. ”
Marvel were still keen to recruit Davis and they knew a brilliant way to tempt him over to their side.
” Chris ( Claremont, ) phoned me .. ( saying, ) Marvel is doing another X-Book and its going to be set in England and Captain Britain is in it. .. I don’t know whether Captain Britain was included in the group to encourage me. ”
Davis also at this time said goodbye to working on Detective Comics, here he explains why he left in the middle of the much publicised Batman: Year 2 storyline.
” There were lots of problems with deadlines. It got really stupid I just had to be free of it. .. I felt like I was being treated very badly. But when I complained or attempted to change things I was ignored or placated with empty promises.”
The final straw for Davis came when DC changed his art on Batman: Year 2 due to a discrepancy in the gun Batman choses to use in the story ( don’t ask it’s one of the oddest Batman stories ever and is explained brilliantly here.)
Below check out the original black and white Davis art for Batman : Year 2 and the altered final colour version.
Davis explains why this caused him to finally walk away from Batman.
” It was the loss of trust. That’s the thing that really annoys me realising I was working with people who really didn’t give a damn about what I was doing. I just didn’t want to work with them.”
So the stage is set for Davis to return to Marvel and the character he helped define, join me again soon as we continue our look at Davis’ move onto Excalibur, Clandestine and more.