2000 AD Prog Slog

Friday, February 08, 2008

Prog 390

Art robot Kevin O'Neill's parting from Nemesis the Warlock after only two episodes of Book Four came with an unprecedented third-page long explanation and farewell piece by Tharg, last prog. In it, he explains that O'Neill is going to take thrill power to America where it is scarce. Actually, it was becoming increasingly less scarce at this time with Brian Bolland towards the end of his triumphant twelve part run on DC's Camelot 3000, Dave Gibbons just starting work on Green Lantern and Alan Moore in the midst of his first year on Swamp Thing.

The presence of O'Neill's work in America wasn't entirely problem free. Early on, a Green Lantern Corps short he drew was rejected by the American Comics Code Authority. When asked by the publishers what they needed to do to get the strip approved they replied, nothing, it's the artist's general style that's the problem. It just goes to show what a backward and retarded organisation the Comics Code Authority must be to reject everything by the most original artist that mainstream American comics has seen for years. Fortunately for America and the rest of us, this cringe worthy display of ignorance didn't stop O'Neill bypassing the CCA altogether and producing Metalzoic for DC, Marshal Law for Epic and The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen for ABC.

Back in 2000 AD and, more specifically, Nemesis the Warlock, O'Neill is replaced by the robot with the loveliest hair in the Command Module, Bryan Talbot. Talbot has only dallied a little bit with 2000 AD before now but already has a big reputation in comics for his hyper layered, science fiction graphic novel, The Adventures of Luther Arkwright. I remember trying to read it a year or two before, being totally baffled by it and abandoning the book half way through. What a shrivel minded little boy I must have been because, like Halo Jones Book One which I also had problems with, Luther Arkwright is a great book. Anyway, if you're going to replace Kevin O'Neill on a thrill set on an alien planet whose culture is based upon radio broadcasts it has received from early twentieth centaury Earth, then it might as well be Brian Talbot. How perfectly suited is he!

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  • A few years later, at a signing for the recently launched/re-released/finished Valkyrie Press edition, I had the misfortune to stand behind a guy who seemed to have brought the entire pile of progs that constituted Book Four. Talbot was too mannerly to tell the guy to f*ck off (of course).

    The whole event actually makes it into Talbot's recent book, THE NAKED ARTIST, though Bryan manages to confuse Banbridge (where the signing took place) for Belfast. Winder if anyone has ever pointed out the mistake to him?

    By Blogger Mark, at 5:32 pm  

  • "Winder" is, of course, Ulster-Scots for "wonder".

    By Blogger Mark, at 5:33 pm  

  • Mark, I keep meaning to pick up a copy of THE NAKED ARTIST. I'm going to put it onto my Amazon wish list right now.

    By Blogger Paul Rainey, at 6:25 pm  

  • As a kid, I was always a bit sniffy about art droids who had been parachuted into established stories, but I remember loving Bryan Talbot's work on Nemesis at first sight. And to get Ro-Jaws, Hammerstein and Mek-Quake back again? Wow.

    Although, even after all these years, I still prefer Hammerstein's Ro-Busters head.

    BTW - anybody else think the Goth chick (as drawn by Talbot) looks like Jenny Agutter?

    By Blogger Stavros, at 7:42 pm  

  • Stavros, replacing an artist of O'Neill's caliber and going down well is an achievement I would think.

    By Blogger Paul Rainey, at 7:39 pm  

  • Nemesis book 4 overall is really entertaining. It proved that Pat Mills could still write. I thought the recent (before prog 390) Slaine stories weren't up to much even if the art was. In fact, those Slaine stories were the beginning of Mills's decline - much later Slaine and ABC warriers stories are unreadable in my view. His recent Defoe was pretty bad too, but Greyshirt was ok. He just has no idea of dialogue, a plot, or pacing anymore. But Nemesis 4 is good.

    By Blogger Simon C, at 11:09 pm  

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