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Author Topic: Artists at their best  (Read 1312 times)

JayzusB.Christ

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Artists at their best
« on: 08 April, 2021, 11:10:26 AM »
Just having a re-read of some old progs (spurred on by Conrad and Fox's podcast - thanks, guys).  I was thinking then about the stories that showed artists doing their best work ever.  Here's a few that sprung to mind:

Steve Yeowell - Zenith Phase 3.  I loved all those crisp straight lines and stark blacks and whites.  Also he'd got rid of that square jaw thing of the earliest phases and his characters looked more human.

Colin McNeil - Song of the Surfer.  Now, obviously he was brilliant on America, but nobody does getting shot to bits like Colin, and that's what SotS was all about. 

Carlos - It's a tough one to call. Colour, I'd say Necropolis - all those gouache purples were just perfect for the murk of the DJ-run city.  Black and white, maybe Strontium Dog - Rage, when he really got Johnny's look and the dusty Wild West style down to a T.

Glenn Fabry - Sláine the King (and the Miniseries).  Obviously his colour work on Demon Killer was amazing, but his B/W stuff on Sláine's home turf was spectacular.

Mike McMahon - Sky Chariots, because of course it's Sky Chariots.

Kevin Walker - Dredd in Sin City.  His new style at its absolute best.

John Hicklenton - Nemesis in Deathbringer.  He'd really refined that muscular, dripping-with-filthy-detail style by then.

Kev O'Neill - Classic Nemesis; around the celebrated Great Uncle Baal scenes.

Henry Flint - A toss-up between his take on Nemesis; the first time I realised he was truly an artist to be reckoned with; and Dredd in Total War; when I realised he was a Dredd artist to be reckoned with too.

Belardinelli - It's going to be Sláine again, specifically The Wicker Man.

Ron Smith - that's a hard one.  The Daily Star Dredds maybe?  Other than that it's the Otto Sump stories, the Fatties stories or the one about the immigrant kid with pyrokinetic powers. Anything that shows off ugly cits and zitty teenagers, basically.

That's all I can think of now, but of course more will follow.


“Men will never be free until the last king is strangled with the entrails of the last priest”

IndigoPrime

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Re: Artists at their best
« Reply #1 on: 08 April, 2021, 12:14:17 PM »
On a couple of those, I dearly wish there was a version of Zenith Phase IV in B+W rather than colour. Gina Hart makes a good go of it, but I’d much have preferred that in the style of the previous phases (and for the interludes to be Yeowell-illustrated. God knows who thought it’d be a good idea to throw Maximan Carmona’s way, and although Jim McCarthy’s Mandala worked pretty well, matching that artist’s sensibilities, I’d have much preferred it be Yeowell guiding the entire strip.

As for Ezquerra, I have a real soft spot for that era of his colouring. That simple style really captured a sense of neon nightmare that few other artists have matched in colour—including Ezquerra himself later on. His Dredd and Anderson work from that period looks superb. (The only other colour strip that matches it for me is She-Devils in the 1988 annual, by Brendan McCarthy/Tony Wright/Brett Ewins.)

Inspired by the original post, I started trying to think of some other artists whose work shone during particular eras. I initially figured D’Israeli’s Leviathan, which was a masterpiece. but so too were big chunks of Scarlet Traces, all of XTNCT and the entirety of the under-rated Ordinary.

Simon Bisley for me shone in ABC Warriors but dialled it up a notch for specifically the first volume of Horned God. It redefined what comics could be and still stands up today. You can see areas where he ran out of time, but those simpler pages still have a beautiful quality to them. By the third volume, though, either the style has changed or his interests level has, and I’ve never clicked to the same level with anything he’s done since.

Will Simpson has done a lot of solid Dredd work, but War Machine really brings home the hell of war, in a manner few 2000 AD strips had conveyed in linework. It was grimy and yet had spots of beauty among the horror. It’s such a pity that the foundation he and Gibbons created was immediately tossed away for something far inferior in every sense.

Mark Harrison is an odd one, because it’s the first artist where I don’t feel compelled to go backwards. Some of his earlier work was overly effects-laden and indistinct. It wasn’t bad, per se, but I much prefer his more modern and looser style, and The Out is so far the pinnacle of that.

Any more for any more?

JayzusB.Christ

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Re: Artists at their best
« Reply #2 on: 08 April, 2021, 12:51:46 PM »
Agreed on Will Simpson (The War Machine). 

Bisley - I'd go with most of the second half of The Horned God Book 1, when he'd got Sláine's look down properly, and the second book.  You're right in saying his interest level dropped in Book 3 - I've heard him say so in an interview; he was working on other things at the same time.

Brett Ewins - has to be the first Bad Company.

Brendan McCarthy - I was thinking She-Devils too, but I hadn't known there were so many artists working on it with him.  That or Sooner or Later, of course, which was as McCarthy as it could possibly get.

Sean Philips - I was thinking Armitage; where he totally nailed the mix of the future technophile sleazy Brit-Cit and the traditional grimy boozers, government buildings etc.  But then I remembered Swimming in Blood, where he was simply the only man for the job.
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Magnetica

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Re: Artists at their best
« Reply #3 on: 08 April, 2021, 02:22:04 PM »
Here are my choices:

Steve Yeowell - Zenith Phase 1. Especially the first episode.

Colin McNeil - Mechanismo series 1, America series 1, Insurrection series 1 and 2.

Carlos-  too many to choose. Off the top of my head, Starlord era Strontium Dog, early black and white 2000AD Stront, Stainless Steel Rat.

Glenn Fabry - Slaine the King, especially the first episode.

Mike McMahon - Judge Child, numerous Dredd shorts just after that.

Kevin Walker - Khronicles of Chaos.

John Hicklenton - Hellbringer

Kev O'Neill - Nemesis Books I and III.

Henry Flint - Day of Chaos.

Belardinelli - Meltdown Man

Ron Smith - too many to choose. Judge Child, numerous shorter Dredds such as Otto Sump, Citizen Snork, Daily Dredds.

Others worthy of mention:

Brian Bolland - Judge De’ath Lives, The Cursed Earth, The Judge Child.

Ben Willsher- Day of Chaos

« Last Edit: 08 April, 2021, 02:27:14 PM by Magnetica »

dossa1uk

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Re: Artists at their best
« Reply #4 on: 08 April, 2021, 02:31:23 PM »
Like minds!

I couldn't agree more regarding Zenith phase 3 - Yeowell is an exquisite draughtsman, precise and considered, but on Zenith, and, in particular, phase 3, there's real energy and drama in those pages, as he starts flinging blacks around, and roughening the edges.  I absolutely love it.

And at the risk of veering hipsterwards, I think I might just prefer The Black Hole over the Horned God (as a piece)...(though, this is not a position that might stand up to much argument...)

I read She-Devils again just yesterday - one of my favourite versions of MC-1 as a "real" place.  Grubby, neon and dangerous.  The colours are fantastic.

Tjm86

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Re: Artists at their best
« Reply #5 on: 08 April, 2021, 04:13:25 PM »

Black and white, maybe Strontium Dog - Rage, when he really got Johnny's look and the dusty Wild West style down to a T.


See for my money the very earliest Strontium Dog stuff was some of his best work on the title.  The Starlord work in particular seems to be more intricately crafted to my mind. 

The Western elements of the title are far more pronounced.  Certainly it comes back to it so much on Rage compared to some of the tales that ran before it.

Plus you just have to love those double page spreads and the insanity of Journey into Hell.

I would have to say other than the minor blip when he started exploring computer colouring there is a degree of consistency to his work that few artists can match.

Opening up to other artists ..

Cam Kennedy ... his VC's work, so much of his Rogue Trooper work, his Dredd work ... Tough call.  Arguably the work he did on the second Chopper strip and the plethora of Dredd's he did around that time are amongst his strongest. 

... and Colin Wilson?  His technological perfectionism gave a level of realism to Rogue Trooper that matched Gibbon's early, formative work.  The Traitor General cover of one of the earliest strips is one of my personal all-time favourites.  The Dix-1 offensive work .... superlative.

Worth remembering the plethora of talent we've been privileged to admire over the last four or so decades (f***!)  :o


abelardsnazz

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Re: Artists at their best
« Reply #6 on: 08 April, 2021, 05:05:22 PM »
Ian Gibson - Halo Jones Book 3. On this Gibson's work seems to have much more depth than on Robo-Hunter and Dredd - not that there's anything wrong with his work on those but the quality of his work on HJ3 is particularly memorable for me.

Brett Ewins - I really like his early work on Rogue Trooper - The Vid-Vultures, Major Magnam etc.

Bryan Talbot - Nemesis Book 4 - perfect style for the Gothic Empire.

Mention of Simon Bisley's work on The Black Hole made me think of SMS - his only work for Tooth was the other half of that story and for my money is just as good - the detail is simply stunning.

John Ridgway - The Dead Man.

D'Israeli - Scarlet Traces.

Steve Dillon - his City of the Damned episodes are particularly memorable.

The Corinthian

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Re: Artists at their best
« Reply #7 on: 08 April, 2021, 05:30:24 PM »
Surely Luke Kirby is the definitive John Ridgway strip?

Mister Pops

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Re: Artists at their best
« Reply #8 on: 08 April, 2021, 05:31:14 PM »
Every time I look at a page of Shakara, I can just tell Henry Flint was having a great deal of fun drawing all those weird aliens, cool spaceships and crazy weapons.
You may quote me on that.

JayzusB.Christ

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Re: Artists at their best
« Reply #9 on: 08 April, 2021, 07:33:23 PM »
For me, although Cam Kennedy was consistently great, his best stuff was Sunday Night Fever and his biography, the first Kenny Who? story.

Totally agree about Ian Gibson on Halo Jones book 3, and John Ridgeway on Summer Magic (though it's hard to imagine an artist more suited to The Dead Man either).
“Men will never be free until the last king is strangled with the entrails of the last priest”

Tjm86

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Re: Artists at their best
« Reply #10 on: 08 April, 2021, 07:56:21 PM »
I'd go with Kirby as some of Ridgeway's best works well.  It feels like something he is so heavily invested in.  Talbot on the Gothic Empire really makes sense when you turn to Luther Arkwright. 

As for Dillon, his Dredd work always feels like some of his best to me.  I feel like a stuck record on "Alone in a crowd" but when you take a look at the rest of his stuff ... Werewolves, Orlok, the Undercity, ... and yes, City of the Damned ... then look at his Punisher stuff, it's just not in the same league.

Little surprised that Gibbons hasn't had a mention yet.  His early Rogue stuff?  The Dan Dare Space Ark?  Hey, the last Dare series might have been absolute pants in terms of script but you can't fault his artwork, surely? 

Talking of Henry Flint on Shakara, surely we have to mention Alan Davies?  That courtroom scene in D.R. & Quinch?  Harry Twenty?

Bagwell?  Cradlegrave is something else, then we've got his Indigo prime stuff ... and we're back to bonkers alien scenes.

Coleby's work on Jaegir has been absolutely sublime.  A perfect match to the story that has reinvigorated a rather tarnished 'franchise' (if we can call it that ...)

The Mind of Wolfie Smith

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Re: Artists at their best
« Reply #11 on: 08 April, 2021, 11:33:02 PM »
belardinelli - blackhawk

perfection

Dandontdare

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Re: Artists at their best
« Reply #12 on: 09 April, 2021, 12:28:41 AM »
If you want one epic that had Dredd's classic artists all at the absolute peak of their powers, I'd say The Judge Child - we had Bolland's Jigsaw Man, Smith's Filmore Faro, McMahon's Angel Gang and Ezquerra's Murd the Oppressor.

Funt Solo

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Re: Artists at their best
« Reply #13 on: 09 April, 2021, 02:36:37 AM »
++ map ++ thrills ++ coma ++

Magnetica

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Re: Artists at their best
« Reply #14 on: 09 April, 2021, 07:44:06 AM »
If you want one epic that had Dredd's classic artists all at the absolute peak of their powers, I'd say The Judge Child - we had Bolland's Jigsaw Man, Smith's Filmore Faro, McMahon's Angel Gang and Ezquerra's Murd the Oppressor.

Ezquerra didn’t draw Murd during the Judge Child - that was McMahon. You are probably thinking of a later story when a bunch of old foes revisit Dredd that was drawn by Carlos.