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GHM Online Columnist - Steve Higgins

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.MAY 2003.
Steve's Column Debuts!

by Mike W. Barr
and Brian Bolland

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:. "A+ Graphic Novels"

July 11, 2003

"CAMELOT 3000"

It broke new ground. It was one of the first books published on high quality paper and distributed only to the direct market. The first maxiseries in comics history, this book was planned with a beginning, middle and end, much like a prose novel. It also had the freedom to do whatever it wanted with its characters since, despite being published by DC, it was outside of their continuity.

It was published without the Comics Code Authority seal and was advertised as a book for mature readers. Thus this book was able to explore subject matter mainstream comics had shied away from. Two of the central characters in the book are involved in an extramarital affair, for example, and one character is a man trapped in a woman's body.

It had fantastic art. Penciller Brian Bolland today is well known for his beautiful cover art, but in 1982 when this series began, he was largely unknown outside of England. By the time the book finished in 1985 (unfortunately the wait between some chapters was incredibly long, another trend in comics' future that this book foretold), he was widely known throughout mainstream comics for his incredibly detailed and expressive linework.

It was incredibly well-researched. Writer Mike W. Barr utilized a creative consultant for this book, a member of academia who was well-versed in the Arthurian lore Barr was reworking for his own purposes. Barr similarly drew from his own research into the legends of King Arthur and used as inspiration for this story great works of literature, including the masterful poetry of Sir Thomas Mallory.

It mixed genres seamlessly. In this book, these Arthurian legends were reimagined in a completely new setting: a far-flung future Earth in the midst of an alien invasion. The sword-and-sorcery trappings of the Arthurian legend are juxtaposed with science fiction clichés and a hint of political intrigue to make a book that is better than the sum of its parts. Reincarnation meets genetic engineering at one point, leading one of Arthur's knights of the round table to come back as an eight-foot-tall monster. Meanwhile, villainess Morgan Le Fay not only employs aliens from a tenth planet as her henchman, but also the UN's top security advisor as her right-hand man.

This series was Camelot 3000. Innovative, imaginative, and beautifully crafted, it should be on your bookshelf.

All Content ©2003 Steve Higgins, All Rights Reserved.


Steve Higgins is an English instructor who loves comics so much he offers a class on them in the spring. His wife Sarah hates comics with a passion and wishes Steve would stop spending so much money on them each week.
Favorite Comics: Doom Patrol, Y the Last Man, Alias, Queen and Country, X-Statix, 21 Down, Paradigm
Favorite Movies: The Fisher King, Heavenly Creatures
Favorite Bands: Radiohead, Counting Crows, Weezer
Favorite Writers: Kurt Vonnegut, John Irving, Russell Banks
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