In a previous blog post, I may or may not have publicly shamed such narcissistic titans of European colonialism as T.E. Lawrence and Sir Richard Francis Burton for not having their own comic book series. Well, I’m here to issue an apology and a correction. It turns out that Richard Burton is one of the two main protagonists of Mark Hodder’s six-part Victorian steampunk series, Burton & Swinburne. Set in gritty, industrial revolution-era London, the novels feature notables of the era like Charles Darwin, Florence Nightingale, and explorer John Hanning Speke.
In this, the Burton & Swindburne series goes along with recent Victorian period piece movies like Sherlock Holmes and The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, which have drummed up the public’s interest in heroes set in turn-of-the-century England (despite League‘s terrible box office showing and the continued legal battles of its creator and one of my favorite authors, Alan Moore). So I wouldn’t be surprised to see Sir Richard as the hero of a movie sometime in the near future, unless Hollywood gives up entirely on trying to produce anything but films that are remakes of previous films….
Also to give credit where it’s due, I should point out that Burton is the title character of at least one comic book in French, an irony in itself given the historical tensions between France and Britain over who got to keep which part of the Middle East. There are two volumes, one about Burton’s adventures on the Nile and the other about sneaking into Mecca disguised as pilgrim. Somebody get Warner Brothers on the phone!