2000 AD Prog Slog

Tuesday, July 01, 2008

Prog 548

With the new format now six months old, The Slide I so smugly talked about before and first mentioned a year of progs ago still hasn’t really taken hold. In fact, just taking a snap shot and using only this prog alone as a guide, I would say that we are currently in the midst of a particularly strong period.

Bad Company returns with an eight page opener to their second story. It doesn’t seem that long since the first tale was wrapped up. Zenith rattles towards the conclusion of his first book. Strontium Dog is up to its knees in yet another memorable yarn called The Rammy. And Judge Dredd Oz is just getting started.

The only strip that looks anything like the odd thrill out is Nemesis The Two Torquemadas. John Hicklenton’s art is so ink heavy, so perverted, so gothic and such a departure from Brian Talbot and Kevin O’Neill who drew the thrill before that it’s a bit of a shock, even second time around. Major cast members get lost in the inky atmosphere, story telling seems compromised by indulgent splash panels and every character with even just a slight wicked streak is drawn with a heavily rendered, Joker sized grin.

But Messimo Bellardinelli’s work is often equally challenging and he’s an artist whose style I grew to like. My memory is that Hicklenton develops story telling discipline, his artwork becomes almost intricate and his comic work improves. Whether this change takes place by the end of The Two Torqumamda’s I can’t remember right now.

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  • Hinckleton is one of those artists that cannot fail to polarise opinion. I //loathe// his work, and your point about style over story telling is a valid one.

    Pretty good for an art school project, but sacrificing story clarity for a veneer of pen'n'ink trickery is never a good idea. Even if one argues 'it's for effect' then I'd say, 'what, ALL the time?'

    For me, this is where 2000ad begins that slide: this isn't a new or short-lived story that underperforms (we could forgive that on grounds of experimentation), but former top thrill Nemesis becomes an unreadable spume of ink, which I recall seems to go on forever...

    By Blogger Ken Davidson, at 7:40 pm  

  • I've always advocated the counter-theory that "the slide" actually comes after a very real peak that'll go on for another year or two yet.

    By Blogger Mark, at 8:26 pm  

  • Hello - loving the slog so much thought I'd join in the heckling!

    I think the slide has a while to set in yet, though there's the odd warning sign. Hicklentons art, I quite like but it definitely "new school". Or rather, just plain "new", because schooling doesnt come into it. If he had the grounding in story telling and anatomy it'd be great - as it is, its up to him to learn on the job, YTS style, with minimal supervision. I think this is the pattern that will lead to the slide -an "anything goes" editorial policy.

    I think Crisis is the real problem - suddenly, Pat goes off on one, and doesn't stop ranting for the good part of a decade. The eye is taken off the ball, as the 2000ad editorial get suckered into thinking that 'adult' comics are the future and feel vaguely embarassed by the prog.

    First time I felt the oncoming slide was prog 642. Course, prog 650 is a real great relaunch - as if after a year of neglect, they realise they need to smarten up their act. Again though, the Rogue Trooper relaunch feels like a comic embarassed about it's past 'misdeeds'... and the long slide sets in.

    Anyway, thats all the future - Sorry for getting ahead of the slog on my first comment!

    By Blogger Leigh, at 8:44 am  

  • Ken, you're right when you say his artwork polarises opinion. I can remember later work by him though where he works harder on the story telling and it's a delight to look at and read.

    By Blogger Paul Rainey, at 5:38 pm  

  • Mark, you might be right. There is some amazing stuff in the comic right now.

    By Blogger Paul Rainey, at 5:40 pm  

  • Hi Leigh. Thanks for your comment. I try not to rely too much on memory when blogging the slog, not always successfully (see today's entry about Zenith). I think you're correct about Hinckleton being left alone to learn on the job. He's very obviously a gifted artist but i am surprised that he didn't get to work on more Future Shocks before being given such a plumb gig.

    By Blogger Paul Rainey, at 5:45 pm  

  • I didn't think Hickletons run on Nemesis was this early... I thought his art was pretty f**ked up tbh...very grotesque...I think thats why Pat Mills likes him.

    I think Mark and Leigh have some good points. For me the slide started about prog 690-700, at this stage Slaine: The Horned God had just ended, Johnny Alpha had just been killed and Necropolis was coming towards an end. Then we got crap like Junker and the New Harlem Heroes by Michael Fleisher, Dry Run, Below Zero etc

    By Blogger Derek, at 1:37 am  

  • Derek, from memory, The Slide was well and truely in place by that point.

    By Blogger Paul Rainey, at 6:10 pm  

  • I guess we'll see over the course of the slog if you can pinpoint the slide.

    I think there were enough good thrills to keep twoth going till that point... Necropolis, Slaine: The Horned God, the Dave Gibbons/Simpson Rogue Trooper, Armoured Gideon etc.

    There were signs of decline yes, but there were still usually more good thrills than bad in the average prog.

    By Blogger Derek, at 10:43 pm  

  • Hicklenton's art on Two Torquemada's is some of the best in 2000AD's history. The main emotion that is provoked? Nausea, which exactly matches Mills's creepy tale. The episodes towards the end when Torq goes on a rampage with a chainsaw....

    By Blogger Simon C, at 11:04 am  

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