A Ralphie in Brighton

A Ralphie in Brighton

In January we went to Brighton for a week's holiday. Usually we go to the Welsh coast for a winter break but this year we had my niece, Isobel, to stay and thought Brighton might be a bit more interesting.

One evening we met up with an old friend from Birmingham who'd moved there, at The Fortune of War, a pub on the seafront. After a pint I went to the loo and was greeted with a rough sketch of an alien from the movie franchise Alien, smoking a ciggy and holding a pint.

In the 1990s a cartoonist called Ralph "Ralphie" Kidson produced a series of self-published comics: Sad Animal, Giant Clam. Envelope & Stick and Captain Dolphin to name but four. One of his strips was titled Allens and told the story of a family of aliens from the movie franchise Alien with the surname Allen who lived in a suburban terraced house. In the first strip, Allens vs Predator, then played pool with a Predator.

I have tried in vain to find this comic on the internet. I probably have a copy in the many boxes of zines in the spare room and when I finally sort through them I'll try to remember to take a pic for this post. In the meanwhile here's a review of Giant Clam #2

Every so often a Banksy will be discovered and there's a huge rush to save it, either so it can be sold for a fortune or preserved "for the community", before someone takes it for themselves. This had happened a couple of weeks before we were in Brighton where a Stop sign, altered into a protest presumably against the ongoing genocide in Gaza, was removed by opportunists, prompting the deputy leader of Southwark council to say “We’d like it back so everyone in the community can enjoy Banksy’s brilliant work.”

The confluence of protest art, vandalism, safety infrastructure, cultural value judgements and celebrity is so deliciously potent that I struggle to unpick it, and kinda prefer it that way.

So when I saw a piece of graffiti by an artist that a couple of decades ago I considered one of the major figures of the British cartooning scene, I wondered what would happen if I decided it was worth removing. How would I do it? What would the repercussions be? Could I get permission? Brighton is a city that values the arts and here was something I could probably argue was worth saving.

In the end I left it, so that everyone in the community could enjoy Ralphie's brilliant work.