As of midnight last night – my midnight, here in Western Europe, not your midnight, in one of America’s many time zones – Tim Pilcher’s Kickstarter for Comic Book Babylon: A Cautionary Tale of Sex, Drugs & Comics went live. It is, as the blurb says, a ‘The shocking, revealing and completely unofficial memoir of DC Comics’ legendary London office, to celebrate Vertigo’s 20th anniversary’.
You’re thinking, ’I’ve never heard of this guy’, but you’d probably be wrong. While he was working in the London Vertigo office, and before that in London’s genuinely prestigious Comic Showcase comic shop, he met all sorts of people, like Garth Ennis, Neil Gaiman, Grant Morrison, and many other British comics luminaries. And he somehow ended up in their comics. He often posed for comics artist Paul Johnson, who used him as Dane McGowan in Morrison’s The Invisibles, as the evil adult Timothy Hunter in Gaiman’s The Books of Magic, and as various characters in stories in 2000 AD, including as Judge Mookie, below. He also had a regular off-screen role in Garth Ennis and John McCrea’s Hitman, as Timothy ‘Timmy the Fish’ Pilchard, Tommy Monaghan’s arms dealer and information broker. And he gets the most oblique of references in Ennis and Steve Dillon’s Preacher, where Tulip O’Hare’s friend Amy teaches in Pilcher High School. So, you’ve likely come across him at least once in your life…
This book is about his memories – occasionally frequently drink or drug addled – of his times working in the comics trade in London, and particularly his time in the Vertigo UK office, at a time when the best comics creators in the world were continually passing though it. It’s a tell-all story of what happened then, and who did it (and to whom, and with what. Maybe.)
As well as that, this book is a hugely important piece of British comics history. Whilst you Americans are really good as documenting the history of the people and companies responsible for your comics, this is something that is seriously lacking in British comics, and this book fills in some of the gaps. So, if you’re interested in comics history, or social history, or a bit of scandal, or just entertaining stories of wild adult excess by peoplew whose names you’ve heard of, then I urge you to dig deep, and help fund this book. I have.