Being served in the post office in Withington this afternoon I looked down and checked out the name on the big package the person to my left was weighing. Alan Moore, it said, which I found amusing- I was standing next to a package destined for the greatest living comic writer. Northampton was where it was headed, noticing which I did a little mental double take- maybe it really was going to the greatest living comic writer. Then I spotted the name of the company sending the package- Savoy Books– and was absolutely certain it was going to THE Alan Moore.
Savoy Books is based in Withington. I didn’t know Savoy Books was even still a going concern. I should have said something to the guy posting the parcel, but I’m me, and terribly English about starting pseudo-random conversations with strangers in Post Office queues. So I didn’t. I really should have.
Savoy books was started in 1976, as a publisher for material that was too risky or strange for other imprints. They almost immediately fell foul of the law and were regularly raided by the corrupt vice squad of “God’s Cop” James Anderton. Publisher David Britton has to be one of the last writers in this country to go to jail for his art, serving two spells in Strangeways. Undaunted, he incorporated his experiences into future works such as Savoy Dreams and Lord Horror– which went on to become an inflammatory multi media cottage industry, spawning comics, sequels and music.
My first experience of Savoy Books was in a seedy little second hand bookshop in a building where Bar 38 in MAnchester’s “Straight Quarter” now stands. I’d look at the Lord Horror and other comics- large format and too expensive for a student- and tell myself I’d buy some one day. Eventually I managed to get The Adventures of Meng and Ecker, collecting their comic appearances and reprinting articles about Savoy and Lord Horror. There’s something to offend on every page and the art’s dense and dark. It’s not easy reading, but I’ve just pulled it off the bookshelf and I’m going to flick through it and lose more time, having already spent an hour or so trawling the Savoy website.