Black Crown RIP: Thoughts And Reflections
by Olly MacNamee
I’d heard the news of Black Crown’s demise earlier in the week from a very reliable source, but couldn’t believe it until Bleeding Cool broke the news, t’other day. As one of the early champions of this IDW imprint, I thought it only right to write down a few personal thoughts around its cancellation, which was something of a surprise for many reading it online.
When I first started blogging about comic cons here in the UK, it was never going to be enough for me and soon, with politeness and some tenacity, I got to meet and greet some of comicdom’s finest. Knowing my place in the grand scheme of things, even to this day I am always pleasantly surprised when any creator remembers me at conventions. After all they meet so many of my ilk at cons across the country and across the year. And yet, when I finally got to meet Shelly Bond in person at Portsmouth Comic Con in 2018 – having reviewed several of Black Crown’s first wave of weird and wonderful comics such as Punks Not Dead (David Barnett and Martin Simmonds) and Kid Lobotomy (Peter Milligan and Tess Fowler) – she greeted me as some kind of long lost friend. Watching her later, bantering with the likes of David Barnett and her partner-in-crime, Philip Bond, I was immediately sold on this grand dame of comics and her passion for the medium and doing things differently.
And, that’s exactly what Black Crown did. Many saw it as a continuation of Bond’s journey onto the bizarre from her Vertigo days, and betting on comics, and creating teams, that others may not have considered. And, looking at the roster of creators – many of whom have gone onto working for bigger publishing companies – Bond could spot talent and help nurture it. It was clearly more than just another comic book imprint. If you cut Bond, I imagine she’d bleed ink. Fluorescent and neon, maybe, but ink nonetheless.
Bond’s passion for comics and creators seemed to be one with a maternal edge to it. It gave David Barnett his big comic book break and, I dare say, brought the likes of Tini Howard, Martin Simmonds and others to the attention of bigger publishers. Her support of creators was never in doubt, but she spoke about all with great pride. Something she extended to me too, often reaching out to me via email whenever there was a new book coming out. Now, that is quite the thrill as a lowly blogger, I can tell you. Bond was personable, approachable and definitely made me feel special with this oh-so-personal touch. It’s not often, the boss of a comic imprint emails you personally, now is it?
Black Crown was Bond personified in many ways too. Punky, brash and loud enough to wake up the neighbours, it was ultimately a noble and bold experiment and it may have shined brightly and burnt out fast and furiously – like many a punk band – but it will be missed by many for its diversity of themes, genres and characters.
But, with every dark cloud there can be a silver linings and it’s pleasing to hear that her Hey Amateur! Kickstarter will be published by IDW as a soft back in 2020. I imagine the demise of Black Crown will be merely a bump in the road for such a talented and personable inidividual as Shelly Bond. It may be last orders at the bar, but was a great time had by all while it lasted. I’ll raise my glass to that and drink up one last time.