A year or so ago, our good pal Bryan Talbot started telling us about a new artist that he had met in France, a French-Japanese woman named Veronique Tanaka who had created a rather unusual graphic novel called METRONOME that not only worked as an animated movie but told a story through meta images and syncopated storytelling. We remember thinking that Talbot seemed awfully interested in this artist’s work, as he was acting as her agent, but, well, comics folks are an incredibly helpful bunch, and it’s not all that unusual for them to help each other out. The book was eventually published in the US by NBM, Tanaka was interviewed by several websites — including Publishers Weekly — and then, as with many flavors of the minute, she disappeared into the great scrum of comics, back to her original world of “conceptual art.”
Or did she?
It turns out, Tanaka never really existed.
As revealed today on The Forbidden Planet Blog, Tanaka and Metronome were completely the creation of…Bryan Talbot.
NBM took the book believing Bryan was acting as Véronique’s agent, it was only after it had been accepted but before publication that he revealed the truth to them, when he said – “Terry Nantier… to his credit, he didn’t try and persuade me to put it out under my real name.” The book garnered some good reviews (personally I thought it was fascinating) but the sales didn’t match the good reviews and so Bryan has decided belatedly to come clean via the Page 45 Newsletter, Stephen Holland having been in on it from before publication (and equally as impressed with the book as I was before he knew it was actually Bryan experimenting).
Well, it certainly fooled me! I’ve got to say I quite like the idea of this – famous creators working under another pen name is far from unusual in the book trade, but the majority of the most famous rather spoil the idea by having “Joe Bloggs writing as Stack Powerhouse” on the cover, which makes the idea of having a different type of work from your normal ouevre taken on its own merits rather than as a work by the famous such and such rather redundant (frankly, other than to please the marketing department I never saw any sense in that approach at all, it’s like Batman wearing a top with ‘Bruce Wayne appearing as Batman’ on it.
To which we can only say…well played, Mr. Talbot! Thank goodness no one in comics journalism ever does an actual background check.