Wednesday, 23 July 2014

Blessed Brian

I'm sure I'm not alone in remembering sitting down and copying Brian Bolland's artwork as a youth (probably when I should have been doing something slightly more academic).

Stuff like this.


Anyway, it was our immense pleasure to sit down with another of 2000AD's all time legends. There are really no words that can describe the impact that Brian's work on Dredd had on this reader's fragile little mind.  His art in such classic stories as The Day the Law Died, The Judge Child Quest, The Cursed Earth, Block Mania, Judge Death & the Dark Judges was seminal.  In the US he had a massive impact drawing important books like Camelot 3000 and The Killing Joke, and has since drawn hundreds, possibly thousands of astonishing covers for DC comics.

During the filming of this doc I have asked contributors who their favourite artist is and Brian's name is usually the first word from their mouths.

So I'm meeting arguably the most most recognised comic artist of all time, a man whose work I have pored over for many hours of my life, and he turns out to be the most humble and cheerful gentleman you could possibly imagine, what a joy. Brian welcomed us into his studio, a treasure trove of his work and the place where for many years so many of his iconic images have been designed.  The room is littered with piles original art pages, racks of comics, framed sketches from other comics legends dedicated 'To Brian' and various bits of animals...  No lie!  It turns out that a sheep's skull perched innocuously on a window ledge was the life model for Judge Mortis!

We had a lovely chat about the old days, Brian's techniques and inspirations, his thoughts on the superhero genre and tons more stuff that I'm beaming about during the edit!

Many thanks to Brian and his family for the hospitality!

Friday, 18 July 2014

The Long Walk (erm, drive)

@andydiggle @grantmorrison.

Our epic journey through the creators past & present continued a couple of weeks ago with a 1000 mile road trip, headed north. After a too-early start we headed up to Lancaster to visit Andy Diggle who is probably best known as the creator of The Losers and Snapshot, and for writing such cool titles as; Swamp Thing, Daredevil, Batman, Green Arrow and Action Comics.

Of course before all of that he was known as the 8th incarnation of Tharg the Mighty...

Andy kindly agreed to an interview when we met in Glasgow last year during a traditional post-con heroic drinking session.  His role as Editor from 2000-2002 offers a unique perspective of the goings on behind-the-scenes at the Nerve Centre itself.  We chatted about the history & impact of the comic, the seemingly endless editorial challenges, the bold new direction that the Rebellion takeover heralded and much more juicy stuff besides.  It's a fascinating and candid interview!

Massive thanks to Andy and his family for having us!

So cracking on, we headed further north to Glasgow for an interview with comics legend Grant Morrison.  A short period after Grant's first Futureshock his Zenith strip debuted, co-created with Steve Yeowell and Brendan McCarthy. Zenith quickly became regarded as a classic, and to me it represents the era where I was personally ramping up my comics interest to an 'unhealthy' level.

I remember watching a rare interview with Grant and Dave McKean on a daytime chat show (Pebble Mill or some such crap) discussing their book Arkham Asylum. I was thrilled as the presenters reeled in horror when Dave unveiled his shocking rendition of the Joker while Grant smiled mischievously in the background!  A beautiful moment.

His subsequent work for DC had an instrumental role in paving the way for Vertigo, a chapter we'll be discussing in the doc, and having written for most of comics' top titles we have seen him rise to become one of the major forces in the industry. So we were bloody delighted that Grant was happy to take part in the film and unsurprisingly the interview is spellbinding stuff!  Just you wait...

Cheers to Grant and Kristan for having us around!

So with 2 more seminal additions to the doc in the can, we headed home - 400 much shorter miles.

Tuesday, 1 July 2014

Future Shock hits Mega City One

Well June was hectic!  We have massively stepped up the production schedule now and our calendar is blasted to bits with new interviews.  A couple of weeks ago we headed to the New York (the Big Meg itself!) for a couple of days to get the US perspective on our humble British comic.  Our first stop was comics industry legend, Founder and Editor of Vertigo Comics in the 80's & 90's, Karen Berger.

Karen was responsible for auditioning and hiring a lot of 2000AD's creative talent for their first work for DC Comics in the mid to late 80's.  That was a time when I was excitedly following the careers of our droids, eagerly waiting to see what impact they would make on the DC universe, as well as what the American audience would make of them.  In the wake of Watchmen the floodgates opened, I remember being blown away as titles like Skreemer, Arkham Asylum, Hellblazer & Sandman hit the stands, proudly championing the 2000AD ethos across the pond.

Karen was so welcoming to us, and seemed genuinely delighted to be involved in the doc.  The 'British Invasion' is a seminal part of 2000AD's history, and Karen's role in that was huge.  We had an absolutely fascinating discussion and I'm proud to have had the chance to sit down with one of comics' all time heroes.

Next up we sat down with Will Dennis, current Vertigo & DC Group Editor and the man responsible for publishing some of the coolest books in recent years including 100 Bullets, Y The Last Man, DMZ, The Losers & Scalped.

Will is a really cool guy and a huge 2000AD fan. We had a great chat about the legacy of Vertigo, the impact of 2000AD on the US market and the continuing ripples of that impact throughout pop culture today  (we also briefly touched on the state of contemporary art that surrounded us in the apartment!) Wicked interview.

Later that evening we managed to hook up with Andy Diggle for beers and a burger in Times Square! Andy, who was in town for the Special Edition comic con, was scheduled for a visit of his very own from our crew later that week - which you can read about in our next instalment...

Huge thanks to Karen & Will, and best of luck in the future!