Thursday, July 13, 2006

Reasons I love Comics (Issue #1): Gaze into the fist of Dredd!

In the previous post's comments, I mentioned I was thinking of listing the reasons why I love comics. Which particular stories, art, panels, punch-ups, movies, animated spin-offs etc., illustrate why I love the medium so much. So, in no particular order of merit, here's the first issue!
This single panel is probably what got me turned on to comics when I was a small boy.
Because both of my parents worked, my brothers and I spent our school summer holidays at my Nan and Granddad's house. My youngest brother was a climber and an explorer, and would spend all day either climbing trees or picking up crusty white dogshit and throwing it at other kids. My other brother was a warrior, who would either play football ("It's not the winning, it's the taking someone apart!") attack nettle bushes with a stick, or attack other kids (with or without a stick, he wasn't bothered) . I was the quiet one (hard to believe now, I know) the 'clever one' who was happy just to read. Two of my uncles hadn't left home yet and my Uncle Paul used to buy 2000AD every week and keep them in boxes under his bed. So when I went to Nanny's I would just bugger off upstairs and immerse myself in newsprint mayhem every day until the egg and chips were ready.
Paul had literally hundreds of the things under his bed, so, every day,I'd go and fish the next one out. (The collection was incomplete though; it used to piss me off when one was missing) I loved RoboHunter, Strontium Dog and I used to especially like Rogue Trooper. I never used to be keen on Judge Dredd, until I chanced upon the work of Brian Bolland. The man was, and still is, a genius with a pencil and an ink brush. It looked both realistic and yet dynamic. His composition of each panel was brilliant. His Dredd was the definitive Dredd. The first time I came across his art was in the four-part Judge Death story, which was brilliant, (it also introduced Judge Anderson) but the sequel to that strip was called The Four Dark Judges and it booted poor old Rogue into second place forever. I think it was Prog 225, but I'm not sure. Dredd was caught in Judge Fear's bear trap and Fear was about to show him his face, which was so frightening it will stop your heart if you look at it. "Gaze into the face of Fear!" said Judge Fear."Gaze into the fist of Dredd!" replies Joe, who promptly twats him in the mush! Fantastic. So much energy in one panel. As ever Bolland's crisp clean brushwork and his excellent cross hatching made the panel jump out at you. From that moment on, both Dredd and Bolland were my favourites.

Epilogue: While at Bristol Comic Expo last year with the comic Stuffed, I was sat behind a table drawing for a very nice, but mental Dutchman. While I was doing it, a middle-aged moustachioed man sat down next to me and starting drawing. He asked If he could borrow a rubber (eraser, if you're american-it's not that type of moustachioed middle-aged men story!) I didn't have one, so he borrowed it from someone else. It was Brian Bolland. My childhood hero (well, after Paul McGrath.) and I was sitting next to him and sketching. And I didn't have a bloody rubber.

(Author's note: I won't tell you what else I found under Paul's bed! That changed my outlook in a different way!)


Jemima said...

You write lovely autobiographical prose.

Gaze into the fist of Dredd is probably the most memorable line from any comic ever, and is something I frequently quote to myself at bus stops. I like to think I am similarly potent.

mick said...

"picking up crusty white dogshit and throwing it at other kids."

You're right. My prose is lovely. I might have that line engraved on my headstone.