2000 AD Prog Slog

Tuesday, August 05, 2008

Prog 586

In Strontium Dog The No-Go Job, up to its penultimate episode this prog, Johnny Alpha, Middenface McNulty, a representative of some church or other and a couple of other mutants go to a feud world in search of a missing bishop. The mission is complicated by the representative being a snide, less than holy man and Middenface having to mind his granny’s untrained, almost feral dog, Dougal.

It’s difficult to tell at this point how Alan Grant, now sole writer of Strontium Dog, is doing thanks also to the arrival of new artist is residence, Simon Harrison. Previous artist Carlos Ezquerra set the visual tone for the strip for many years, so seeing someone else drawing it is quite jarring, particularly someone whose style is so unique.

Surprisingly, thanks to only really knowing his work on Bradley before now, Harrison has an inclination for science fiction illustration. Some of the images he has produced have been very striking and remind me of pen and ink versions of old science fiction paper back covers from the seventies. However, although his panel arrangement has improved since Bradley, his story telling seems compromised by a lack of clear definition between characters. I can spot, for example, Johnny Alpha and Middenface because I am familiar with them from before and they were designed by someone else, but characters he has created himself look, on the whole, samey and not so easy for me to tell apart. Working out who is who slows reading the story down and makes Grant’s normally airy scripting style seem clunky. There’s something to be said for Ezquerra’s thick, clear and bumpy outlines.

I am aware though that replacing Ezquerra on the strip must be difficult for anyone, even for a more experienced art robot than Harrison. Tharg could have easily gone with Colin MacNeil whose Strontium Dog art seems to indicate a willingness by him to draw in the definitive artist’s style. Going with such a different artist is admirable and, believe it or not, I am willing hard for Harrison to succeed.

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  • Leaving aside the extremely obvious visual differences between Harrison and Ezquerra's work, I think there's something else which might be unsettling you.

    Ezquerra's Strontium Dog is all about restraint. When Wulf boks someone on the head with his hammer, he's not going full-bore. It's just the tap vith the cucumber. When Johnny fires his gun, he considers his ammo and shot selection. A number 3 cartridge is appropriate here, I think. Even Alpha's rage when he chases down Max Bubba's gang is slow burning and focussed.

    In Harrison's hands everybody is twitchy, edgy, and energetic. People are in constant motion. Their limbs and bodies move in strange, fluid ways. Middenface's dog exemplifies this, he's just a wild bundle of hair and legs and eyes.

    By Blogger Jez Higgins, at 10:04 pm  

  • I think you're right in your assesment Jez. Harrison's art never sits still.

    By Blogger Paul Rainey, at 4:14 pm  

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