Monday, 11 April 2011

"GIMME FIVE!" - Colin MacNeil

Top bloke, top artist, Colin's been with 2000AD since the late eighties and, aside from his brilliant work on Judge Dredd, has also produced stunning work on the likes of Strontium Dog, Shimura, Vanguard, Fiends Of The Eastern Front and Devlin Waugh. He's currently illustrating Insurrection in the Megazine, working in black and white which is lovely to see.
Colin has the accolade of longest answers yet and very entertaining they are too. Many thanks to the guy for putting me on to characters i'd never even heard of.
Go Colin:

Thinking about it there were a lot of comics in my childhood. My very first comic I have vague memories of was called "Twinkle". This was the late 1960's and Twinkle was a comic for pre-school/kindergarten ages. However it was the turn of the 70's that comics really began to make an impression on me. Comics such as the Topper, Beezer and Sparky. To me the real classics of early 70's humour comics for kids, much more than the Beano and Dandy which I also read from time to time, but weren't really favourites.
As I got a bit older it was the likes of the Victor, Hotspur, Warlord, Fireball, Commando, Battle Library, Vulcan and Look and Learn (Maybe not technically a "comic" still has it's place as having great strips in it) that took up my interest.
As the 70's wore on it was Action that became the comic of choice, that is until The Galaxy's Greatest Comic. I was 11 when 2000ad first appeared, I'm much older than that now, but I still get 2000ad now.
You'll notice that all the comics mentioned are British comics, there aren't any Marvel and DC comics listed. I had seen American comics but they never really made an impression on me. I grew up in Inverness and deliveries of American comics were VERY erratic. You might start reading a Silver Surfer or Spiderman or whatever comic for a couple of issues and then you wouldn't see that title again for 6 months, so would be unable to follow a story. Pointless! I seem to remember hearing that newsagents at that time would be sent a random selection of American comics, the ONLY comics you could get reliably every time were British comics.
Oh dear, I seem to have rambled a bit there. On with the next question.

By the fact that I still get 2000ad 34 years later must mean that it has to be my favourite... However,...
The comic which I have an emotional(?) connection to has to be Warlord... or the Victor. To me these two are almost inseperable. Victor told tales about the men of my father's generation, they were "real" stories. Stories to be proud of. Warlord took this world of war and told new exciting tales. Victor was Richard Todd in "The Dam Busters" while Warlord was Clint Eastwood in "Hogan's Heroes". So, what is my fav comic of my childhood? It has to be Vic-Lord!

Hmm? Well, there are quite a few I have fond memories of. There was "Klanky" the robot in the Sparky, I really wanted a robot like him when I was a kid. There was "The Wolf of Kabul", though I could never quite decide who I wanted to be, the English boy or the Afghani orphan. "Clicky Ba!", a fearsome war cry indeed when you're six and running through the streets pursuing your mate who's pretending to be a Russian Imperial spy. There was a while where Lord Peter Flint, the Warlord,(from "Warlord") captured my imagination. Now, he was cool! "Black Bob" was, and still is, one of my favourites. My grandfather was a sheep farmer, so I guess it's a nostalgia thing. I enjoyed "Nick Jolly - The Flying Horseman", "The Black Sapper" and "Red Star Robinson". I also liked "The Numbskulls", "Puss and Boots" and "General Jimbo". I'm not really getting any closer to an answer am I? oh! I've just remembered, "The Trigan Empire". Damn! I really liked loads of stuff! I suppose, since the ONLY character which I really made an effort to collect was "Black Bob", then my Favourite would have to be "Black Bob".
Yes, yes! I know! "what about Dredd and the rest of 2000ad?", I hear you say. Yes, Dredd is very important. He's the reason I draw comics today, but it's those comics from when I was very young that made me interested in stories, interested in the world around me. They made me want to be an artist. 2000ad made me want to be a comic artist.

I never, and still don't, know who most of these artists were. I Never knew their names, no one did really at the time. It was just the way things were.
I'm fairly sure that there is one name, for me, that stands out from all others. Don Lawrence. His work on "The Trigan Empire" was ...mindblowing to me as a child! The use of colour and light is just so....inspiring. I would spend hours just looking at the artwork. Just gazing at it, wondering how anyone could get so good at drawing. I was mightily impressed by his illustration work as well, in "Look and Learn", but it was when I first saw "Oh, Wicked Wanda" that I knew he was a master artist. To me "Wanda" is THE most perfect comic strip drawn, EVER. I'm not considering story, it's all about the art. If I can someday draw something, even half as good as that, then I'll die happy.

Hmmm? Dunno, well I do know, but they've brought it back already,..sort of. One of the last great strips of my "childhood" was "Invasion" in 2000AD. I didn't list it above because I wasn't really interested in the character of Mr Savage, but I was interested in the world around it. I had grown up with a plethora of war stories, but they were stories from the past. Here was a story of the future, imagining what "our boys" could do today in the future, as it were. I guess it's a harking back to my father's generation, wondering if we could do what they did.(My father's generation being that which served in WW2.)
When I heard it was coming back I was both happy ...and slightly "huffy" at the same time. I REALLY wanted to do the sequel to Invasion, but, twas not to be.
I didn't, couldn't, read it for the longest time. Eventually I read it. A teleporting tiger! Whit? A teleporting tiger? Yup! Whit? A teleporting tiger!?!!
Suffice to say I didn't continue, though when the invasion of the UK finally happened I HAD to look.
Fishguard? Holyhead? Aircraft carriers THAT close to shore, Higgins boats? Higgins boats? WTF Robots don't need no steenkin' higgins boats! Where were the assault subs rising out of the surf, crashing up the beach disgorging metal death to the enemy? Where were the men? Where was the pride?
Ah! Sorry! Sorry! Got a bit carried away there. So, apart from "Invasion" , what strip would I do? Not "Trigan Empire", my memories are too precious of that. "Black Bob" also.
Part of me would really like to do "Klanky". Another part something like "Union Jack Jackson". Another, the simple adventures of the "Black Sapper".
As a wise woman once said, "I don't really know!"


james corcoran said...

Union Jack Jackson!!!! Totally forgot all about him and most of the content of Warlord and Victor but it's all coming back now the 6 year old me was obsessed with his adventures. Thanks for running this need to try and track down some old back issues.

Mangamax said...

Warlord's still go pretty cheaply on the 'Bay, especially compared to Battle, i guess because a lot of folk think it inferior. There's something to be said for that, but Warlord had a certain charm about it for sure - especially when it came to the free gifts.

Bedrock Son said...

Well, I'm afraid that Wicked Wanda was a little more done by Ron emberton than by Don Lawrence, if you don't mind .

Bedrock Son said...

( Well, I'm afraid that Wicked Wanda was a little more done by Ron emberton than by Don Lawrence, if you don't mind .)
I was meaning EMBLETON ...