Annotating Splash Brannigan’s Shenanigans

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Splash Brannigan detail from cover of Tomorrow Stories No. 11, art by Hilary Barta

Splash Brannigan detail from cover of Tomorrow Stories No. 11, art by Hilary Barta

He’s the drip with quip! The ink who can think! The stain with a brain! Now, even his dalmatians have annotations!

I am, of course, talking about the comic book superhero Splash Brannigan. Created by writer Alan Moore and artist Hilary Barta.

I’ve recently had some time on my hands while my wife and daughter are out of town, so I re-read a bunch of Alan Moore comics. I wrote these earlier posts about Moore (or at least touching on some aspect of his oeuvre.) He’s certainly among my top dozen favorite comics creators, alongside Craig Thompson, Mike Mignola, Alison Bechdel, Dupuy/Berberian… yikes! I am not going to finish that list for fear of excluding great folks I enjoy.

Patient souls have already annotated Moore’s most highly Easter Egg laden series: League of Extraordinary Gentlemen and Top Ten. There are more annotations on-line for Swamp Thing, Promethea, 1963, etc. etc., and From Hell is printed with 66 pages of great explanatory appendices.

I love reading Alan Moore annotations and re-reading the comics seeing all kinds of clever twists I’ve missed. One of the great things about Moore’s work is that it is very honestly and very cleverly very derivative. He swims in culture, and self-consciously and richly mixes and mashes it up to form new stories which pay tribute to and shed light on older works. Like pretty much all great art, it’s easy enough to enjoy with a surface understanding, and then repeated experiences reveal additional layers and details missed earlier.

An earlier re-read of annotations of Moore’s 1963 got me thinking about multi-panel polyptichs in comics. That reveal led me to compiling my listing of notable and obscure comics multi-pans from 1906 to 2003.

I figured I would try my hand at annotating some Alan Moore work. Something that hadn’t been annotated yet.

There are still lots of great works to chose from… but I ended up picking Splash Brannigan. Mostly because each Splash appearance is a sort of tribute to some subject: art, comic fandom, music, early animation, detective fiction, etc. some of which I have decent knowledge of. I think Splash may be Moore’s most highly-referential comic that hasn’t yet been annotated… but I may just be missing references in Lost Girls or Cobweb or Miracleman. And I already owned a copy of every comic where Splash appeared. And I think most Splash stories are still fairly easily available in ‘compendium editions’, unlike hard-to-find Moore classics including American Flagg! back-up stories, or Brought to Light.

WWSBS? How about “Hey! Where’s the love?” 

So… to read my Splash Brannigan annotations start from this index. I think I am about three-quarters done as of the time of this writing; I’ve got all the Tomorrow Stories appearances done, including T.S. letter columns, and a Kyle Baker one-off. I am still working on his last two appearances in Tomorrow Stories Special and ABC A-Z. Also I am planning to add some kind of introductory page.

These annotation pages are probably not for everyone… in fact, they probably don’t make any sense unless you have the comic to read alongside the annotations. These are works-in-progress that I will continue to refine as I have time and insight. I feel like I could identify a whole lot of the references, but I included questions where I am hoping that people will actually read and help me identify stuff that I am unfamiliar with.

Splash Brannigan drawing by Hilary Barta, from Tomorrow Stories No. 8 in the Tomorrowgrams letter column. Photo by Joe Linton

Splash Brannigan drawing by Hilary Barta, from Tomorrow Stories No. 8 Tomorrowgrams letter column

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