Tag Archives: 2000AD

The BRISTLE – full of lovely comicky goodness including rare Judge Dredd strip and behind-the-scenes photos from Eagle Mk II launch!

Okay, so this is nothing more than a shameless cross-blog promo plug for The BRISTLE!

But who wouldn’t want to know about the rare 1990 John Wagner/Ian Gibson ‘Judge Dredd’ strip?

Who would want to be left in the dark about Ron Smith, John Gillatt and Gerry Embleton working on ‘Dan Dare’ designs for the rebooted Eagle?

And who in all honesty isn’t interested in a letter sent by the assistant editor of a British comic to an eleven year old boy in 1988?

So get thee over to The BRISTLE – it’s a Bumper Bonanza of Inky-Fingered Fun!

Great news, chums – new UK comics-related blog The BRISTLE launched!

As part of a slowly-unfolding plan to hive off different aspects of this blog to more focused efforts, I am pleased to announce the launch of my new venture, The BRISTLE!

Devoted to all sorts of stuff connected to UK comics, The BRISTLE will be a handy resting place for musings on the peculiarly British anthology titles – both of yore, and contemporary efforts too.

So whether you were a fan of DC Thomson’s perennials like The Beano and The Dandy, or IPC’s more off-the-wall funnies like Whoopee!! and Oink!; or a boys’ adventure paper junkie revelling in The Victor and Valiant; or a pure child of the 70s with your Battle and Action and 2000AD, I shall endeavour to root around my boxes of delights for rare strips, odd titbits and aged newspaper cuttings to share with you.

Already I have posted up a ‘Judge Dredd’ six-pager by John Wagner and Ian Gibson that was exclusively published in Sinclair User magazine to tie-in to a Spectrum ZX game – so keep your eyes peeled on The BRISTLE for more such treats in the future!

PS

In tangentially-linked news, British comic writer par excellence Pat Mills has endorsed on of my posts about cop-spook-turned-academic Bob Lambert MBE!

Wikipediaphile: The Droste effect

Whilst cruising through excellent comics website 2000AD Covers Uncovered I came across mention of the ‘Droste effect’ in a post about how artist Jock put together one particular cover for 2000AD.

Never heard the name before, but as the Wikipedia page on the Droste effect explains, it’s a pretty familiar concept:

The Droste effect is a specific kind of recursive picture, one that in heraldry is termed mise en abyme. An image exhibiting the Droste effect depicts a smaller version of itself in a place where a similar picture would realistically be expected to appear. This smaller version then depicts an even smaller version of itself in the same place, and so on. Only in theory could this go on forever; practically, it continues only as long as the resolution of the picture allows, which is relatively short, since each iteration geometrically reduces the picture’s size. It is a visual example of a strange loop, a self-referential system of instancing which is the cornerstone of fractal geometry.

The effect is named after the image on the tins and boxes of Droste cocoa powder, one of the main Dutch brands, which displayed a nurse carrying a serving tray with a cup of hot chocolate and a box with the same image. This image, introduced in 1904 and maintained for decades with slight variations, became a household notion. Reportedly, poet and columnist Nico Scheepmaker introduced wider usage of the term in the late 1970s.

The Droste effect was used by Giotto di Bondone in 1320, in his Stefaneschi Triptych. The polyptych altarpiece portrays in its center panel Cardinal Giacomo Gaetani Stefaneschi offering the triptych itself to St. Peter. There are also several examples from medieval times of books featuring images containing the book itself or window panels in churches depicting miniature copies of the window panel itself. See the collection of articles Medieval mise-en-abyme: the object depicted within itself for examples and opinions on how this effect was used symbolically.

I vaguely recall it first making an impression on me on the front of some 1970s Blue Peter annual I picked up at a jumble sale or boot fair…

ETA1:

From a quick google I see that the Blue Peter annual has been axed.

ETA2:

I knew it! Here’s the Blue Peter annual cover I was thinking of (image via Nigel’s WebSpace Galleries Of Annuals) – the tenth one, from 1973.

Gone Rogue! A brief journey through a youth misspent writing lists, and other Genetic Infantryman notes

Firstly, some sad news – it seems comic artist Brett Ewins (Rogue Trooper, Bad Company, Judge Dredd, Deadline etc) has been seriously injured after an incident involving the police.

Reports the Ealing Gazette:

Brett Ewins…received serious head injuries after stabbing a police officer on Saturday morning at his home in Cowper Road. An investigation by the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) is underway.

Police were called to Cowper Road after receiving calls about a man who had been shouting through the night. Officers arrived to find Mr Ewins holding a knife before they were attacked.

During the ensuing struggle, one of the officers received minor stab wounds and the 56-year-old sustained a head injury. Both were taken to hospital.

The officer was released from hospital but Mr Ewins remains in a serious condition at St Mary’s Hospital in Paddington. The Met informed the IPCC of the incident immediately…

(Tip o’ the titfer: Tony Ingram on the Comics UK forums.)

For me, Brett Ewins’ style represented a shift away from the more staid, traditional styles I was familiar with in the various UK titles of IPC and DC Thomson, and towards something more exciting, more anarchic, more… Well, just more, really. Plus his propensity for gurt big orthopedic boot treads was as instantly recognisable a trademark as Carlos Ezquerra’s cut-and-and-keep-style serrated outlines: much imitated, rarely bettered.

So regardless of the circumstances, I hope Brett makes a full and speedy recovery.

Of course, one of the big name strips Brett first made an impression on was 2000AD‘s future war story, Rogue Trooper. Whilst recently digging through some old cuttings files (a big hoarder, filer and lister I am, and long has it been that way – only after several years of ‘Mr Trebus’ jibes did I relent and dump the twelve foot high pile of unsorted newspaper clippings that I realised I would never really get through), I discovered some interesting notes I had put together when a wiry youth.

Okay, I was neither a wiry youth, and nor will many people find them interesting, but anyhow, they are notes I made whilst reading through Rogue Trooper stories in my 2000AD collection, including the monthly ‘Best Of’ title, annuals, specials, and Dez Skinn‘s Quality reprints. Essentially it’s a glossary of terms used in the Rogue Trooper universe – military slang, characters, plot points and so on. There’s even a bit on the rebooted Rogue ‘Friday’, which Dave Gibbons and Will Simpson had just made a start on when I originally put together these notes.

I post them up here as low resolution jpegs, and as a hi-res PDF; apologies for my barely legible script. The right-hand column indicates reference points: ‘QC’ = the Quality Comics reprints; ‘WS’ = 2000AD Winter Special; ‘SF’ = 2000AD Sci-Fi Special; numbers in brackets refer to The Best Of 2000AD Monthly appearances. All other references should be from weekly Progs, or clearly marked 2000AD annuals.

Oh, and the image at the top of this post is a scan of a quick doodle I made around the same time, which pulls together some of the great Nort/Souther emblems used in Rogue Trooper.








» Download PDF of Rogue Trooper glossary

And comic artist John Hicklenton has died, too…

I’ve just noticed that the comic book artist John Hicklenton is also being reported as having died:

According to several news sites including Forbidden Planet, artist John Hicklenton has passed away. As you may know, especially if you watched the award winning documentary about him Here’s Johnny, he had lived with MS for many years.John Hicklenton came to the notice of 2000 AD readers as the new artist on Nemesis the Warlock during the late eighties. His work was striking, challenging and subversive. As you will see if you look back over The Slog covering that period, I had difficulty adjusting to his style initially. However, his comic strip work improved at a rate that matched my adjustment so that by the end of the eighties he had become one my favourite artists of the expanding 2000 AD line. His Judge Dredd work for The Megazine during the early nineties was both fresh and expressive.

Via Paul Rainey at 2000AD Prog Slog.

I remember John Hicklenton’s work on Nemesis being very different to everything that had come before, and when Paul says it was “striking, challenging and subversive”, he hits the nail dead centre. This was dark, scary artwork that evoked a bleaker world than that of Kev O’ Neill or Bryan Talbot, though always with a hint of humour.

His stint on ‘Third World War’ in Crisis was the first time I got to see him working on a ‘realistic’ strip, rather than fantasy, and he rendered the racist cop in the storyline incredibly well (Angie Mills'(?) colouring boo-boos aside).

He took a similar sensibility with him to Toxic, where he had a run on ‘Fear Teachers’, which never got a chance to be finished, thanks to the comic’s early demise. But again, his bent towards the grotesque – and his propensity for unpleasant, bald, stubbly men – was full of interest, regardless of the script, his skilled style of rich line draughtmanship adapting well to the then up-and-coming trend for painted panels.

Rest in piecework, John!

» Here’s Johnny film website
» Here’s Johnny IMDb page

ETA:

There’s now a report on John’s death on the BBC News website, confirming that he went to Dignitas, the assisted suicide clinic in Switzerland:

Mr Hinklenton’s agent, Adrian Weston, described him as a “clear-sighted and visionary” person.

…”He was one of the most clear-sighted and visionary people I have ever met.

“Having worked with him was one of the greatest privileges of my professional life.”

He said that Mr Hinklenton completed his last book, 100 Months, the day before he travelled to Zurich.

The MS Trust said: “John was best known for his work on comic 2000AD and for illustrating characters such as Judge Dredd, but he also led a high-profile campaign for better rights for people with MS.

…”The fact that John Hicklenton was prepared to use his fame to raise awareness of a condition so often overlooked by the media, and to wage his personal war on MS so publicly is something that is greatly appreciated by people in the MS community.”

Stand up comics: Bill Graham reveals all

comic editor extraordinaireThere’s a great interview with Bill Graham over on the comic site Down The Tubes right now.

Bill who? Well, I thought the same when I first heard about it on the DTT blog, but it turns out that he was one of those unsung heroes of British comics. He edited the likes of Warlord, Starblazer library, Spike, The Crunch, Buddy, Champ and Football Picture Story Monthly for DC Thomson, as well as working on titles like The Hornet, Commando library and The Wizard – as he himself says, “At one time it felt like I was editing about half our output!”

It’s particularly interesting to be able to trace the editorial connections between some of these titles, because in comparison with the papers of rival publisher IPC/Fleetway, in the years I was at my comic reading peak, DC Thomson offered no clue as to the writers, artists or editors involved in their juvenile lines. Instead, the ink-smudge fingered fan had to resort to detective work, devouring whatever books on comic art were available (and in those days, there were not many about), and cross-referencing the anonymous work in DC Thomson titles with attributed work in IPC comics.

Encyclopedia Of Comic Characters by Denis GiffordThe baseline for my early days of forensic comics investigation was the work of Denis Gifford, though in later years there were some useful books written by Alan Clark (sadly not the testosterone Tory). However, most of those writing about comics back then were, unsurprisingly, more interested in the papers of their own youth than the slowly imploding trade of the 1980s or beyond. That said, Gifford did provide bounty in the form of his Encyclopedia Of Comic Characters, a thoroughly useful alphabetised and indexed work which logged many of the most important or memorable characters in British comics right through to the (then) present day. Each entry included a brief précis of the character, a thumbnail picture, and most importantly the name of an artist associated with the character. Given the whole situation with companies not creators owning the characters (a situation hardly that much changed to this day), this did mean that there were blind spots, but that book did shine a light onto the otherwise impenetrable world of DC Thomson in particular. I used the book, borrowed from my local library, to develop a series of notebooks. In these I backtracked from the index to create a dictionary of artists, in which I logged the various strips they were confirmed to have worked on, and to which I added those strips which I myself had identified them to have worked on. I can even remember the specifics of how I went about it, down to the type of pens I used (colour coding developing as I expanded my project to include writers, colourists and others) and the notebooks in which I wrote.

But time marches on, I boiled the marrow out of the book, having renewed it to the max on my ticket, and life moved on. The notebooks went away, and it wasn’t until last year, when I finally bought a second hand copy of the Encyclopedia online, that I came to think of that project again. And now more pieces of the puzzle come together: I get into eBay, through which I’ve managed to fill holes in my collection (a complete collection of Spike, which was one of the few titles of the day to completely elude me at the time; the odd copy of The Crunch and Champ – easily two of the best DC Thomson boys’ titles of the 70s/80s), and this fascinating Bill Graham interview. Because for so long the only voices we heard on the subject of UK weeklies were from that milieu of late seventies freelances working mainly at IPC (your basic Pat Mills-John Wagner-Alan Grant axis), it was those voices which underlaid any attempt at a narrative in the development of British mainstream comics through from the sixties into the nineties. Certain opinions became accepted orthodoxy: writing on girls’ titles was superior to that on boys’ titles until the Battle/Action/2000AD revolution, IPC titles were uniformly grittier than DC Thomson ones, DC Thomson was institutionally dour, and so forth. So it’s great to hear such a stout defence of DC Thomson’s output from Mr Graham. That’s not to say that it’s a complete refutation of those orthodoxies which developed, just that it helps develop a more rounded picture to the fan on the outside.

Sorry, rambling. Basically, a great interview to read for anyone with an interest in UK comics. I suppose it’s yet more incentive to pull my finger out and get on with working on my book :o And, for that matter, to finish off a blog post on UK comics that I started writing ages back, based around an exchange of letters ages back with (IIRC) Dave Hunt of Eagle. Though both might first require a certain friend to pull her finger out and send me back that book she borrowed… *hint hint*