The Independent has a piece up on Philip Pullman and how his father's death in 1954 infuses everything he writes:
It is not a side issue: adventurers, heroes and absent fathers appear in almost everything he writes. Sally's dad drowns in Pullman's first hit, The Ruby in the Smoke. The explorer Lord Asriel strides through the multimillion-selling trilogy His Dark Materials. The airman Lee Scoresby is the hero of the most recent book, Once Upon a Time in the North.
The themes emerge again in the strip he has just devised for a new comic, The DFC. The first weekly publication of its kind in 25 years, this is an attempt to recapture and remake the spirit of the great comics of the Fifties for a new generation. The first edition will reach subscribers this week, and its main attraction will be Pullman's "Adventures of John Blake". Drawn by the illustrator John Aggs in a style inspired by Japanese manga, it is about a boy who travels the oceans of the world on a schooner shrouded in a mysterious sea fog. He appears to be an orphan. "It is disconcerting," Pullman said, half-seriously, "to realise that one is writing the same story again and again."
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