Category Archives: The Pictures

Movies. Motion pictures. The flicks. The sinny-marr.

Anyone who stands still is a well-disciplined actor: Kubrick, Colceri and Ermey

The story of how R Lee Ermey commando raided his way from film set military advisor to snaring the pivotal onscreen role of drill instructor Gunnery Sergeant Hartman in Stanley Kubrick’s Full Metal Jacket is a hoary old anecdote.

In pre-production Kubrick needed to audition a whole cadre of young actors as newly-conscripted marines entering Parris Island and being faced with the implications of military life for the first time. Knowing that Kubrick, who was in the habit of not being present for such run-throughs but instead preferred to have them videotaped for his later inspection, Ermey figured out that someone would be needed to deliver the feed lines from the drill instructor to each one of the actors. He further realised that this was his chance to show Kubrick (who had earlier turned down his request to audition for the part of the drill instructor) what he himself could do with the part – in effect hijacking thirty audition tapes, ostensibly of other people, but in which he was the biggest, brashest, most electric element. It was a power play that worked, particularly as a prompter rather a player he was unrestrained by Kubrick’s unwavering demand for actor’s to stick to the dialogue as written, and could instead fall back on his lived experience as a Viet Nam-era DI to machine-gun the shell-shocked Hollywood young bucks with soul-crushing putdowns and the foulest of insults.

It was a power play that worked. The director was amused by Ermey’s sneakiness, and impressed by his embodiment of the character. So Kubrick, that master micro-manager of movies, hired him to be his Hartman – and sacked the actor whom he had hired for the part years previously, despite having had him rehearsing for twelve hours a day, six days a week for eight months on his own, apart from the rest of the cast.

This video is the story of the hoary old anecdote, told not from the perspective of cheeky old Ermey, but from that of the man whose part he snatched: Tim Colceri. An interesting watch.

Alan Parker remembers the making of ‘Bugsy Malone’

My fondness for Bugsy Malone has never been hidden: I loved it as a kid, and I love it today, for its warmth, humour, songs, memorable lines and, of course, splurge guns.

So it was sad to hear a couple of days ago of director Alan Parker’s passing at what now we might consider no age at all, 76. But when your legacy includes something as joyous as Bugsy Malone, I think you can consider it a life which others will remember as well-lived.

Here’s some nice footage from a couple of Q&As with Parker, filmed at BFI screenings of the movie in 2011 and 2015, where he is accompanied by Dexter Fletcher, who at nine played Baby Face, before a long career as a stalwart actor on TV and in film, and more recently as a director in his own right, and Paul Murphy, who played the inimitable Leroy Smith. The affection of the audience is clear.

Picturehouses and kinemas

Here’s a nice little piece I found, going into the origins of and reasons behind the names of cinemas:

Old Time Names for Cinemas – A Shroud Of Thoughts

On Australian crime drama – from ‘Scales Of Justice’ to ‘Bikie Wars’

Been watching a few rather decent Australian crime dramas lately…

Firstly there’s Bikie Wars: Brothers In Arms, a recent based-on-true-events series revolving around the Comanchero-Bandido split that culminated in the 1984 Milperra Massacre (that’s not a spoiler, it’s presaged in an on-title screen before each episode).

Reviews I saw moaned about it being slow going, with lots of unanswered questions hanging in the air (like why did Jock Ross want to ‘expand’), but I’ve found it pretty decent viewing three episodes in. Plenty of familiar faces: Callan Mulvey (Drazic from Heartbreak High and Mark Moran in Underbelly series one), Damian Walshe-Howling (Benji Veniaman in Underbelly series one), Jeremy Lindsay Taylor (Norman Bruhn in Underbelly season four, Razors), Lauren Clair (Tracey in Underbelly series one), Richard Cawthorne, Anthony Hayes, Luke Hemsworth, Fletcher Humphrys etc. One bum note, though – what’s with ex-Australian rugby league player Matthew Nable (Gary Jubelin in Underbelly season five, Badness) and that terrible Scots accent?

Also based on real events is 2011’s Killing Time, which focuses on the events leading up to the imprisonment of Andrew Fraser, brief-of-choice for a bunch of Melbourne crims that includes the Pettingill family (subject of the film Animal Kingdom and the thinly-veiled earlier TV series Phoenix). With the notorious Walsh Street killings as its fulcrum, infamous real life grotesques such as Kath Pettingill, Dennis Allen and Victor Peirce all involved, and police incompetence/corruption endemic, it’s pretty dark stuff – and far less stylised than anything in the Underbelly franchise.

David Wenham is very strong in the lead role, and there’s beefy backup from the likes of Colin Friels as Lewis Moran (cf Underbelly series one, where he was played by Kevin Harrington), Richard Cawthorne and Fletcher Humphrys from Bikie Wars, Kris McQuade (Jacs Holt in the Prisoner reboot Wentworth), and Ian Bliss (science teacher Mr Bell in Heartbreak High, and Thomas Hentschel – originally anonymised as ‘Mr L’ – in Underbelly series one). All round, Killing Time is very strong.

Also recently I saw for the first time Joh’s Jury, a telemovie about the perjury trial of former Queensland Premier Johannes Bjelke-Petersen in the wake of an inquiry into corruption…

Good to see some familiar, solid faces in the cast: Norman Yemm (The Sullivans), an early appearance for Noah Taylor as a tetchy young juror, plus a strong performance from Malcolm Kennard (who appears a few years later in both Bikie Wars and Killing Time). In terms of staging, nothing outstanding, but a nice little mood piece that helps provide a bit of context for us non-antipodeans wading through period crime drama.

On the writing side, though, it packs a punch, thanks to the pen of Ian David (who would later be responsible for Killing Time). Previously he had written two other similar docu-drama style TV films about bent cops: Police Crop, about an investigation into corruption in New South Wales, and Police State – which covered the Fitzgerald Inquiry that forms the backdrop to Joh’s Jury.

Immediately after Joh’s Jury, David scripted the peerless mini-series Blue Murder, which looked at the symbiotic relationship between crooked detective Roger Rogerson, and career standover man Neddy Smith. That one covered a whole slew of grim true crimes, like the murder of Sallie-Anne Huckstepp, and includes real-life wackoes like Chris Flannery (as featured in series two of Underbelly as well as The Great Bookie Robbery and feature film Everynight … Everynight). Matching the bite of the story toothmark by toothmark, Blue Murder is directed in a gritty, almost documentary style by Michael Jenkins, who also handled Scales Of Justice in much the same way.

Meanwhile, handling direction for Joh’s Jury – as he did for Police Crop – is Ken Cameron. It’s unflashy (well, how flashy can a film largely set in a jury deliberation room be?), but gets the job done. Cameron also helmed a few other works of note, including internationally successful mini-series such as Brides Of Christ and Bangkok Hilton. Then there was The Clean Machine, a semi-fictionalised movie about a team of police ‘untouchables’ set up to get rid of corrupt cops in New South Wales, which he co-wrote alongside Terry Hayes. Hayes, who earlier had scripted also worked on Bangkok Hilton, later penned breakout Oz psychological horror film Dead Calm and then a clutch of Hollywood pictures (Payback, From Hell)…

The so far unmentioned element linking many of these dramas is the production environment. Many of them came out of Kennedy Miller Productions, the ambitious Australian company set up by George Miller and Byron Kennedy to manage the birth of Mad Max. Kennedy Miller then gave us lightning in the same place a second time with Mad Max 2: The Road Warrior, which announced the arrival of professional, popular Australian film making, particularly in America.

Whilst Byron Kennedy died in 1983, the company went on to produce an impeccable run of theatrical features, TV movies and mini-series, including Dismissal, about the constitutional shenanigans that led to PM Gough Whitlam being booted out, The Cowra Breakout (about a little-known mass escape of Japanese PoWs from an Australian camp), Bodyline – about the notorious 1932/3 Ashes tour – and, of course, the third installment of their post-apocalypse franchise, Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome in 1985.

The magic did not stop there – next came historical mystery The Riddle Of The Stinson, then Vietnam, about the Aussie involvement in southeast Asia, Hollywood star-packed hit The Witches Of Eastwick, the more parochial The Year My Voice Broke, domestic epic The Dirtwater Dynasty and then the aforementioned The Clean Machine.

Rounding out the 1980s were Dead Calm, which gifted the world Sam Neill, Nicole Kidman and Billy Zane (well, I take it we’re not calling Omen 3, BMX Bandits or a telemovie about the Hillside Stranglers year zero for these three actors), followed by Bangkok Hilton (another strong performance from Kidman), and then from writer-director John Duigan 1991’s Flirting, a continuation of his earlier The Year My Voice Broke. In both Duigan films young Noah Taylor was afforded the opportunity to shine – much as he would again in Joh’s Jury. John Duigan had previously notched up story credits on Vietnam, which he co-directed along with Chris Noonan, who also helmed The Cowra Breakout and The Riddle Of The Stinson for Kennedy Miller, before taking on Police State for ABC in 1989. It was back to Kennedy Miller that Noonan returned in 1995 for his biggest hit: Babe, the talking pig kids’ flick. And there we leave KMP, as we’re straying far from the crime drama path.

But the point is clear: in the 1980s-1990s there was a real concentration of creative talent in Australian television and film, which – particularly when backed by strong production support, whether from an independent like Kennedy Miller, or from a broadcast network like ABC – meant that the local industry was boxing well above its weight.

FAIL #002: Centurion

FAIL #002: Centurion

Just what is it with Roman history?

I’ll allow ‘Ibernia’, but ‘Calsdonii’? ‘Britania’?

No way, Centurion art department, no way!

What’s your poisson? Best April Fool’s pranks of the day

A couple in particular have tickled me today.

First off there was Bristol Culture with its ‘Costa Coffee takes over Brunel’s Buttery‘ story – just all too believable! I worked myself into a proper rage before I realised…

Then there’s arthouse video specialists Criterion, who went with a pair of Arnie-themed chain-yankers – firstly with a picture of Akira Kurosawa visiting Arnold Schwarzenegger on the set of Kindergarten Cop, and then the exciting news that that very film would be getting the full on three disc special edition treatment (“New audio commentary featuring Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, author of It Takes a Village: And Other Lessons Children Can Teach Us”).

Any other decent ones you’ve come across?

On The Planet Of The Apes: Searching for the POTA gold

Been working through the box set, so reckon it’s time for a poll…

  • Now, the original Planet Of The Apes is exquisite, but it’s almost too familiar – “Get your stinking paws off me, you damned dirty ape!” and all that – to retain the full power of one’s first viewing. You can’t fault Franklin J Schaffner’s direction.
  • Beneath The Planet Of The Apes I am particularly fond of. Sure, the Franciscus-for-Heston switcharoo is a bit distracting (though he’s no more wooden than Big Moses himself), and the monkey makeup is a bit ropey in places by comparison, but there’s a lot going for it, especially once we leave Ape City and enter the Forbidden Zone. Ted Post seems a touch hamfisted in comparison to Schaffner.
  • Escape From The Planet Of The Apes was one I was less enamoured by, though it’s pretty tight with the whole reversal scenario, plus we get to meet Dr Hasslein. The echo of its premise could be heard in eighties films like ET and Short Circuit. Ex-actor Don Taylor (the flash flyboy officer from Stalag 17) directs perfunctorily.
  • Then we get onto Conquest Of The Planet Of The Apes. This one surprised me when first I saw it, it’s got real power despite the clearly limited budget. It’s a nice near-future set-up for the first and second movies, and links in well with the third. British journeyman director R Lee Thompson (Tiger Bay, Ice Cold In Alex, The Guns Of Navarone, Death Wish 4) does well in the circumstances.
  • Finally (Amongst the originals), there’s Battle For The Planet Of The Apes, again directed by Thompson. Definitely not my favourite, but it adds a little colour to the post-Conquest ape planet.
  • Next up is Tim Burton’s 2001 remake Planet Of The Apes. I’ll have to give it a fair go before I vote, as I only watched a bit of it previously, and my impressions were not overwhelmingly positive.
  • Ditto the 2011 reboot Rise Of The Planet Of The Apes, directed by Rupert Wyatt. All I know about it is something about a gorilla and a helicopter. Will investigate further.

I’d better get on and work through the whole lot then…

Oh, some top POTA websites:

Moviedrome revisited

I can’t quite recall why, but the other day someone mentioned something which put me in mind of Moviedrome, the BBC2 banner under which first Alex Cox, and then Mark Cousins, selected and introduced films.

I always preferred Cox’s era (1988-1994) to Cousins’ (1997-2000). For a start it coincided with me being of an age where I was hungry for brain food, and Cox – Elvis sneer, palsied chops, assertive voice and all – was ready to deliver. Cousins, with his nervous, Celtic purr, just seemed too artsy, too formal.

But they both introduced me to some great films. True, some pretty meh ones too, occasionally, but damn, looking down the list compiled by Kurtodrome, an impressive strike rate.

Looking through the list I decided to finally tally up how many movies Moviedrome had actually initiated me into. Of course, the passage of time buggers up one’s memory somewhat, so I can’t always definitively say if I first saw a film on Moviedrome or not; but I have had a crack. List is as follows…

COLOUR KEY
RED = HAVEN’T seen it (on Moviedrome or anywhere else)
PINK = HAVE seen it but NOT on Moviedrome
AMBER = HAVE seen it and FAIRLY CERTAIN saw it on Moviedrome
GREEN = HAVE seen it on Moviedrome

1988
The Wicker Man
Electra Glide in Blue
Diva
Razorback
Big Wednesday
Fat City
The Last Picture Show
Barbarella
The Hired Hand
Johnny Guitar
The Parallax View
The Long Hair Of Death
Invasion Of The Body Snatchers
(1956)
The Fly
(1958)
One From The Heart
The Man Who Fell To Earth
The Good, The Bad And The Ugly
One-Eyed Jacks

1989
The Man With The X-Ray Eyes
Jabberwocky
D.O.A.
The Thing From Another World
The Incredible Shrinking Man
California Dolls
THX 1138
Stardust Memories
Night Of The Comet
The Grissom Gang
The Big Carnival
(AKA Ace In The Hole)
Alphaville
Two-Lane Blacktop
Trancers
The Buddy Holly Story
Five Easy Pieces
Sweet Smell Of Success
Sunset Boulevard

1990
Assault On Precinct 13
Brazil
Get Carter
Goin’ South
Dead Of Night
The Terminator
The Honeymoon Killers
Ulzana’s Raid
The Loved One
An American Werewolf In London
Yojimbo

A Wedding
The Phenix City Story
Walk On The Wild Side
Il Grande Silenzio
Quien Sabe?

1991
The Beguiled
Vamp
Knightriders
Something Wild
Carnival of Souls
Badlands
/ The Prowler
Performance
At Close Range
The Duellists
/ Cape Fear (duels)
The Music Lovers
Manhunter
Hells Angels on Wheels
/ Rumble Fish (gangs)
Whatever Happened To Baby Jane?
Solaris
Mishima

1992
Mad Max II / F for Fake
Dead Ringers / Rabid (Cronenberg)
Inserts
The Serpent And The Rainbow
Les Diaboliques
La Strategia Del Ragno
Escape From New York
Alligator
/ Q – The Winged Serpent
Wise Blood
/ The Witchfinder General
Lolita
Play Misty For Me
Walker
Tracks
The Day Of The Locust
/ The Big Knife (Hollywood satires)

1993
Darkman
House Of Games
Escape From Alcatraz
/ Un Condamné À Mort S’est Échappé (prison)
The Hill
Cry-Baby
/ Lenny
Invasion Of The Body Snatchers
(1978) / Romance Of A Horsethief
Gothic
/ The Navigator
The Terminator
Get Carter
/ Week-end
Rebel Without A Cause
/ 200 Motels
Django
/ Grim Prairie Tales
Run Of The Arrow
/ Verboten! (Fuller)
The Long Riders
The Big Combo
Face To Face
Requiescant
¿Qué He Hecho Yo Para Merecer Esto?
Carrie

1994 (Alex Cox’s final year)
The Andromeda Strain / Fiend Without A Face
Talk Radio
Carnal Knowledge
Coogan’s Bluff
/ The Narrow Margin
The Harder They Come
Salvador
The People Under The Stairs
Halloween / The Baby
Carny
Girl On A Motorcycle / Psychomania
(motorcycles)
Race with the Devil
/ Detour (keep death on the road)
Rope
/ 84 Charlie Mopic (experimental filming)
To Sleep With Anger
/ Le Mépris
Excalibur
/ Nothing Lasts Forever
Naked Tango
/ Apartment Zero (Buenos Aires)
Major Dundee
/ Bring Me The Head Of Alfredo Garcia (Sam Peckinpah)
Kiss Me Deadly

1997-1998
Scarface
Westworld
/ Demon Seed (futuristic)
The Fly
/ Society
Exotica
Blue Collar
/ American Gigolo (Paul Schrader)
Dazed And Confused
/ La Vie Sexuelle Des Belges (growing up)
The Girl Can’t Help It
/ Take Care Of Your Scarf, Tatjana (music)
The Warriors
/ La Haine (gangs)
Spanking The Monkey
Logan’s Run
/ Fahrenheit 451 (future)
The Fog
/ Darkness in Tallinn
Storyville
/ Ruthless
Vanishing Point
/ The Devil Thumbs A Ride (road movies)
Targets
Liebestraum
Bad Timing
The Conversation
All That Heaven Allows
/ The Reckless Moment

1998
Trespass
Shaft
/ Force Of Evil
Funny Bones
Cat People
The Killers
(1946)
Caged Heat
Thunderbolt And Lightfoot
Carrie
Léon
/ Le Samourai
El Patrullero

1999
Clockers
Ed Wood
/ The Body Snatcher (B-film)
Prêt-À-Porter
Videodrome
/ Kiss Tomorrow Goodbye
Carlito’s Way
The Osterman Weekend
Mommie Dearest
Johnny Guitar

Branded To Kill
The List Of Adrian Messenger
One-Eyed Jacks

2000
Blood And Wine / Plein Soleil (nouvelle vague directors)
Rumble In The Bronx
/ Clubbed To Death (“guilty pleasures”)
The Killers
(1964) / On Dangerous Ground
The Underneath
/ The Hitch-Hiker (film noir)
Walkabout
/ Don’t Look Now (Nicolas Roeg)
White of the Eye
The Last American Hero

Totting up, I make that:

  • A total of 203 different films aired;
  • Of which I have seen 109 films;
  • 99 of those films I am either definite (56) or fairly certain (43) that I caught them on Moviedrome;
  • 10 films shown I missed on Moviedrome but have since caught elsewhere;
  • 94 films broadcast on Moviedrome I have not seen at all…

Hmmm, 94 films – reckon I have a new project for 2012…

So, how many films did Moviedrome introduce you to? Any memories of Moviedrome presentations? Who did you prefer, Cox or Cousins?

ETA1:

On his website Alex Cox supplies PDFs of the two Moviedrome guides, which collect together notes on the films covered in the 1988-1993 series:

ETA2:

After realising some films (Get Carter, One-Eyed Jacks, Johnny Guitar, The Terminator, Carrie) were repeated, I have revised the above numbers to make them more accurate – my bad.

The legacy of Die Hard

You may like this blog post: The legacy of Die Hard, a look at thirty films (and a TV show episode) that rip off, homage or otherwise seem mighty similar to the white vest trials and tribulations of John McClane.

MikeyMo’s enthusiasm for his subject matter is strong enough that you forgive him the occasional typo. Definitely worth following his blog, methinks.

Paris, Bristol, Warsaw: Street art and the art of the cinema poster (Polskim stylu)

I took these pictures a while back, but I lost them on my pootie and only just found them again. They’re of some paint-ups by Paris (I think), one over the old Target Electronics shop on Cherry Lane near St James’ Barton, the other on the back gate of the Full Moon/Eclipse (AKA Attic) over the other side of Stokes Croft/North Street.

Whilst the second one clearly features Robby the Robot from Forbidden Planet, for me both bring to mind the marvellous creativity of Polish film posters.

If you don’t know what I’m on about, have a read through this fascinating article on the subject from Smashing Magazine. It’s long, detailed, and thoroughly illustrated, so it may take a while to load.

Here’s an excerpt:

The Fifties and the early Sixties mark the Golden Age of the Polish poster. Like everything else, the film industry was controlled by the state. There were two main institutions responsible for commissioning poster designs: Film Polski (Polish Film) and Centrala Wynajmu Filmow – CWF (Movie Rentals Central). They commissioned not graphic designers but artists and as such each one of them brought an individual voice to the designs.

The School of the Polish Poster is therefore not unified but rather diverse in terms of style. It wasn’t until the Mid-Fifities, though, that the school flourished. The fierce Stalinist rule had been lifted, once again leaving room for artistic expression. The classic works were created in the next ten years. Three important remarks must be made. First, at the time the poster was basically the only allowed form of individual artistic expression.

Second, the state wasn’t concerned much with how the posters looked. Third, the fact that the industry was state-controlled turned out to be a blessing in disguise: working outside the commercial constraints of a capitalist economy, the artists could fully express their potential. They had no other choice but to become professional poster designers and that’s why they devoted themselves so thoroughly to this art.

The Polish film poster is artist-driven, not studio-driven. It is more akin to fine art than commercial art. It is painterly rather than graphic. What sets the Polish poster apart from what we’re used to see in the West is a general disregard for the demands of the big studios. The artists requested and received complete artistic freedom and created powerful imagery inspired by the movies without actually showing them: no star headshots, no movie stills, no necessary direct connection to the title.

They are in this regard similar to the work of Saul Bass, a rare example of a Hollywood artist who enjoyed total freedom from the studios. Next to a typical Hollywood film poster with the giant headshots of the latest movie star and the title set in, you guessed it, Trajan Pro, the Polish film poster still looks fresh and inspiring today.

I think my interest in this sort of stuff was first piqued on a visit to Central Europe in the early 1990s. Then I had picked up a few local comics, and was thrilled to discover that, impenetrable language aside, they used exactly the same design grammar that any child who grew up with British comics was familiar with; yet at the same time, the draughtsmanship was almost completely alien to someone raised on DC Thomson and IPC fare – sloppy curves, weird spot colour, disdain for straight lines intermixed with bizarrely angular scratchiness… And I noticed this type of design extended beyond the pages of children’s comics – it was on walls, posters, street corners, even on chocolate bar wrappers (Ama, I seem to remember, was a particularly good example of this odd new visual language).

Through the years I started to gradually pick up more and more of this sort of stuff – completely un-British, un-‘Western’, and yet at the same time thoroughly British and thoroughly ‘Western’ (it’s just difficult sometimes to recognise that your own foundations have been built into the earthworks created by someone else…) Public information signage and propaganda posters and commercial art (qv Mucha) were the areas where I found it easiest to see the parallels, the common ground; but it was in the Soviet-era Polish posters for Western movies I found the most pleasing pictures, slick airbrush art discarded in favour of strong, stylised designs focusing on concepts. I mean, if they can make crappy Whoopi Goldberg vehicle Fatal Beauty look worth a watch, anything’s possible…

These days it seems I’m not the only one with a fondness for Polish posters – there are whole websites devoted to them, and articles in UK newspapers like The Guardian and The Daily Telegraph on them too.

My favourite? Michal Ksiazek’s take on Blade Runner, known in Poland as Łowca Androidów (AKA Robot Hunter).

NTBCW #003: Keith David & David Keith

Two excellent character actors, same names, different order…

Keith David
: 190 roles across 33 years, including The Thing, Platoon, The Quick And The Dead, Dead Presidents, Pitch Black; gap-toothed and dark-skinned.

David Keith
: 105 roles across 34 years, including Brubaker, An Officer And A Gentleman, White Of The Eye, Men Of Honor, Behind Enemy Lines; cleft-chinned and pale-skinned.

There, did that help?

Vote for Italian Film Review in the Total Film blog of the year awards!

My giallo-obsessed internet chum Nigel is in the running for the Total Film 2011 Movie Blog Awards.

His Italian Film Review site is currently in second place in the Best Fan Blog category.

So if south European slashers-n-psychos cinema is your thing, get thee over and vote for Italian Film Review!

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.”

Mystery Pic #022

Mystery Pic #022

Place your bets, please… Answers in the comments…

ETA:

James has correctly identified the film as Wanted.

Wanted title screen