Towards the end of the last academic year, the final cohort of MA Graphic Novel students (now MA Illustration with Graphic Novel) were lucky enough to be graced by the presence of a real legend of both the underground and overground comics world - Hunt Emerson.
Hunt spoke with the attendees about his discovery of the potential of comics for free speech back when working with the Birmingham Arts Lab of the mid-to-late 1970s, and with the British underground comics scene of the 1970s and 1980s. Hunt spoke about how his love for the medium propelled him forwards with his career spanning 50 years, with the anniversary of his first strip in print being the same week as the talk itself. His earliest strips in the 1970s appeared in such British small press comics as Near Myths, Graphixus, Brainstorm Comix, Streetcomix and Free Comix.
A trip to the US put Hunt in touch with the underground comix publisher Rip Off Press, which published his Thunderdogs title. Hunt spoke in great depth and detail about his long and varied career not only in Comix but as a graphic arts designer and illustrator he designed the 'Beat Girl' icon for Birmingham band The Beat and painted a mural of the band, which was used as cover art for the band's second album Wha'ppen?
Since 2002 Hunt has been working for the longest running weekly comic book in the world The Beano - drawing and creating Ratz, drawing Leo Baxendale's creation Little Plum and presently draws the back page strip every week where an avid Beano fan writes in and he conjures them into a cartoon character.
We were honoured to have Hunt draw-up a special limited-edition cover for the graduating MA Graphic Novel and MA Worldbuilding with Creature Design cohorts comix anthology Cool Stuff No.3 (limited collector’s edition print run of 250). The comic itself contains a mixture of world concepts and comics with some hard-hitting and highly contemporary issues being dealt with within its 52 pages including a comic called Abort by Molly Halson, a Queer Werewolf tale by Alice Mccall and a self-reflective cognitively diverse journey by Katie-Marie George - all of whom will be selling their wares and giving away copies of the anthology Thought Bubble 2023. All three students passed their MA in Graphic Novel and collectively said that the words of advice and encouragement that they received from Hunt about their work within those final stages was most beneficial.
A PDF version of the Cool Stuff No.3 comic can be viewed here. Please be aware that this contains a comic about pregnancy termination that some readers may find upsetting.