Next week sees the release of Judge Dredd Megazine #340, featuring the debut of “Ordinary,” a creator-owned strip by writer Rob Williams and artist D’Israeli, the creative team behind the acclaimed 2000AD strip “Low Life,: I’ve been a big fan of both their work for quite a while now — in Williams’ case, since his first published work, the great Cla$$war, in 2002; in the case of D’Israeli, scarily enough, it’s been since his “Timulo’”strip ran in Deadline in the late 1980s. I managed to grab a word with Williams about the new series, and he happily obliged, and sent along a veritable mountain of preview art to boot.
Robot 6: So Rob, the last ordinary man in a world of the super-powered, eh? But what’s Ordinary really about?
Rob Williams: I’m a little wary of frightening people off by talking about themes. “Ordinary” is filled with spectacle, big-Hollywood action set pieces and outlandish characters that are, hopefully, quite memorable, This is a world where everyone gets a different superpower, after all — no two people are the same. But, at its heart, it’s about emotionally allowing yourself to come to terms with fatherhood, really. Out main character, Michael Fisher, is a divorcee who very rarely sees his son when we first meet him. And then the world starts going to hell and it’s up to him to try and find this boy he hardly knows even though there’s a super-powered danger around every turn. And, for Michael, it’s coming to realise the real reason he never sees his son. The book’s called “Ordinary” for reasons that aren’t just about super powers and explosions and giants and talking bears and huge battles. There’s an emotional arc for our lead that is pretty unusual for modern comics, I think.
Welsh writer Rob Williams must have been hit with the lucky stick as a child. His first published comic (Com.x’s Cla$$war) featured art by the great Trevor Hairsine. When Hairsine was poached by Marvel halfway through the series, his replacement was Travel Foreman. Since then, Williams has been consistently teamed with some of the best stylists around on many of his projects: In the U.K. he’s worked with the likes of D’Israeli, Edmund Bagwell and Brendan McCarthy.
It also seems that whenever 2000AD secures the services of a big U.S. artist to draw a Judge Dredd strip, such as Guy Davis, Williams is always the attached writer. On projects for U.S. publishers, he’s been paired with artists of the caliber of Cary Nord, Cully Hamner, Phil Bond, Greg Tocchini and Simone Bianchi. I’m really just skimming the surface here; there are plenty of other great artists he’s worked with in the last couple of years I’m sure I’m forgetting.
Hey, you know who’s a seriously underrated artist? Matt “D’Israeli” Brooker. Let’s take some time to embarrass this mild-mannered Englishman with the type of fulsome praise the British, as a nation, handle so badly. The folks at 2000AD have sent along a video profile of the man (below), revealing an artist of rare intelligence and dry wit. He’s also one of the few artists I’ve seen taking full advantage of the freelancer lifestyle — you’ll see what I mean after watching the clip.
Few artists emerge with a fully developed style of their own, but D’Israeli certainly did, and I think if you showed someone unfamiliar with his work a page of his earliest strips — a “Timulo” from Deadline in 1989 or a Lazarus Churchyard from 1991 — and then presented them with a more recent page, from 2000AD‘s “Lowlife” or “Leviathan,” or from the amazing “XTNCT,” they would recognize it all as being produced by the same hand. Brooker may have constantly evolved and refined his line to its current slickness, but there’s an easily spotted commonality, an essential D’Israeli-ness, to it all. It’s hard to think of many of Brooker’s peers that you could say the same for.
Welcome to Food or Comics?, where every week we talk about what comics we’d buy at our local comic shop based on certain spending limits — $15 and $30 — as well as what we’d get if we had extra money or a gift card to spend on a splurge item.
If I had $15 this week, I’d pick up the third issues of what may be becoming my two favorite new series: Saga (Image, $2.99) and Saucer Country (DC/Vertigo, $2.99). The former is easily one of the most enjoyable, most packed books out there right now for me, with Brian K. Vaughan and Fiona Staples firing on all cylinders with the two issues to date, whereas the latter has an enjoyably retro feel that reminds me of the earliest days of the Vertigo imprint in ways that I can’t quite put my finger on but love nonetheless.
If I had $30, I’d grab the new edition of Leviathan (Rebellion, $16.99), a collection of a 2000AD horror story by Ian Edginton and D’Israeli that the creators apparently described as “Agatha Christie meets Silent Hill” about a Titanic-esque cruise ship that disappears in the middle of the ocean, and ends up somewhere else … with no land in sight for more than two decades. Really looking forward to reading this one.
Should I suddenly find enough money down the back of my couch to splurge this week, then I’d hope to find the $29.99 I’d need for the Deadenders trade paperback (DC/Vertigo). I entirely missed the Ed Brubaker/Warren Pleece mod romance comic the first time around, so this collection of the entire series will be a welcome chance to make up for past mistakes.