X-POSITION: Phoenix, Upstarts & More Tear Up Bowers & Sims' "X-Men '92"
As dangerous as it’s proved in the past, I’m refining another theory. Comics fans are divided into two schools: those who like expressionist comic artists, and those who like realist art. Were your tastes decided by what comics you were exposed to first? Or did you start off liking one school, and develop into a love of the other?
I can see a pattern emerging through my comics-reading history where I start off as a kid loving the Kirby reprints I’m first exposed to, grew up loving Mick McMahon’s work in 2000AD and came back to comics as an adult under the spell of Mike Mignola. In my time, I’ve admired the work of realists like Neal Adams, Brian Bolland and Bryan Hitch, but it’s the work of those three expressionists that I always return to.
So imagine the pleasure I got seeing McMahon sharing his process for a cover for Dark Horse Presents #32. The January solicitations had passed me by, but that issue really is one for the old -chool 2000AD fans — the collaboration between Mignola and McMahon is joined by a new strip by Brendan McCarthy, “The Deleted.” Now that I think about it, a collaboration between McMahon and Mignola has a fairly inevitable feeling about it. No two comic artists have ever sought to refine their styles so much, constantly paring their work down in a pursuit of minimalism.
I’m very fond of the output of artist David Roach. The Welshman has been an on-off contributor to 2000AD since 1988, as well as regularly working as an inker on the strip features in Doctor Who Magazine. I don’t remember him working much recently in the United States, where he regularly turned up at DC and Dark Horse both as a penciler and inker. He comes from a family of academics, and has been developing a parallel career of late as something of a comic book and illustration historian.
Roach regularly uses his Facebook page as an art blog, showcasing artists of all stripes, just as likely to be a fine artist as a comic illustrator, as well as occasionally featuring art from his own collection. This week he has been displaying scans from what he calls “surely the rarest collectible in the comics history.”
If you’re in the United Kingdom and subscribe to the print edition of 2000AD, you’ve already read the first installment of “The Book of Scars,” the opening chapter of the storyline celebrating the 30th anniversary of Slaine, the Celtic hero who was the magazine’s first foray into the fantasy genre, and who quickly became one of its key recurring characters. In its time, the strip has teamed writer/creator Pat Mills with some of the most influential artists ever to work for 2000AD, and many are returning to provide sequences of art for this celebratory storyline.
The first part quickly establishes how Slaine is being bounced around through his own timeline, with the strip’s current artist ending the six-pager with a tribute to the art of the late Massimo Belardinelli, who worked on many of the character’s early arcs. As Slaine lands in key moments from other storylines, the art for those sequences will be handled by the original artists from those eras: Glenn Fabry is returning to draw some “Time Killer”-set pages, Simon Bisley is drawing a return to “The Horned God” period, and the great Mick McMahon is revisiting the “Sky Chariots” adventure.
Judge Dredd fans have another cinematic version of their favorite antihero to look forward to (no, there hasn’t been a last-minute, sequel-saving, boost to the box-office haul of Dredd 3D). The short fan film Judge Minty, which has had a production period running almost parallel to the official movie, has announced it is to premiere at the Leeds Film Festival on Nov. 12, with a second showing at the Leeds Thought Bubble comics festival Nov. 18.
The movie has plenty of close links to the comic and its fandom: Dredd is played in the film by artist Greg Staples, and the script was written by regular 2000AD contributor Michael Carroll, adapting a classic John Wagner and Mick McMahon story. The teaser trailer, which has been doing the rounds for more two years now, shows that it is tantalizingly possible to do an incredibly faithful live-action Judge Dredd on a television budget. Make it so, BBC/HBO commissioning bods!
Art Barrage favorite Rob Davis has debuted the cover for his adaptation of Don Quixote Part Two. Davis’ work on the first book of Cervantes’ masterpiece was that rare treat, an adaptation that crossed from one media to another and still seemed fresh rather than redundant. This is because Davis is a creator of rare intellect and taste, with his blog being the place to see the amount of thought he puts into every project he embarks upon.
When I mention here that the U.K. is going through a Golden Age for graphic novel publishing, Davis has proven to be a key figure in its renaissance. Two of the publishers now regularly producing a steady stream of great books have worked with him, with Self Made Hero releasing these Don Quixote volumes (there’s a collected edition hitting the American market in the not-too-distant future); the ground-breaking anthology he co-edited with Woodrow Phoenix for Blank Slate Books, Nelson, would surely have won a multitude of awards this year if it had been published by one of the big U.S. indies (no, really; if you haven’t read it, click the link, look at that list of contributors, and ask yourself if it isn’t worth a punt, you won’t regret it).
More below, including another Don Quixote cover by Davis, and work by Jonathan Edwards, Rian Hughes, Etherington Brothers and more.