Art For Art’s Sake # 117 – Look At The Beautiful Grotesqueries Of Kevin O’Neill

by Richard Bruton

Art For Art’s Sake, where we show you great art every single week – this week, we have an extra special look at the artwork of a true Bit legend, Kevin O’Neill. But first…. more art!

George Kambadais – Beetle and the Bat

Steve Rude – Alice In Wonderland

Dan Hipp – Loki

Francesco Francovilla

Neill Cameron – Kid Death’s Head

John McCrea – Mister Miracle commission

Tom Foster – commission –

Jose Luis Garcia – Black Canary

Chris Bachalo – Black Cat & Spidey

Yanick Paquette – Captain Harlock

Christian Ward – the Bat & the Boy Scout…

Colleen Doran – Squirrel Girl

John Cullen

And finally…

Let’s end with a little longer look at the work of Kevin O’Neill, the legendary British artist best known for his work on Nemesis The Warlock and Marshal Law with Pat Mills and with Alan Moore on League Of Extraordinary Gentleman. But, of course, that’s hardly the whole of his fabulous work in comics.

He began working at IPC at the age of 16 as an office boy for Buster but found fame in 1977 when 2000 AD came a-calling.

Here he found plenty of work on Future Shocks, before starting work on Ro-Busters with Pat Mills in 2000AD Prog #88, his first major ongoing strip.

But if there’s one thing he’ll always be remembered for at 2000 AD, it’s Nemesis the Warlock, which began, sort of, with a one-off story, ‘Terror Tube, in Prog 167, introducing Nemesis, who began his first book, with O’Neill’s wonderfully stylish and just a little bit grotesque artwork, from Prog 222.

Following 2000 AD, O’Neill worked in the USA for DC Comics, famously falling foul of the Comics Code Authority for his work on the Alan Moore written Tales of the Green Lantern Corps Annual 2. They rejected the work, not for any particular moment or scene but because they found O’Neills’ entire style of drawing objectionable. Thankfully, DC ignored the Code and published without it.

Around the same time, we saw Metalzoic published, the 1986 graphic novel written by Pat Mills, one of the very first creator-owned stories published by DC and reprinted in the same year by 2000 AD. Sadly, despite interest from fans, this is one that’s never really received the deluxe hardback reprint that many think it deserves.

After this came Marshal Law, again written by Mills, not so much a complete deconstruction of superheroes, as was fashionable at the time, as it was a complete destruction of superheroes, with O’Neill’s artwork perfect to capture every cape-killing moment.

And finally, we had Moore and O’Neill’s League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, published from 1999 through to 2019, and I don’t really think we need to catch up all that much on that one, do we?

Kevin O’Neill is one of British comics’ legendary creators, his style all his own, a unique sensibility, a wonderful career… so, enjoy the art…

 

2000 AD

2000 AD Prog #497 (22nd November 1986)

2000 AD Prog #503 (3rd January 1987) – a rare O’Neill Dredd!

Metalzoic

Nemesis The Warlock

Marshal Law

A little bit of LOEG work…

And, if you’re wondering just what the Comics Code found so objectionable with O’Neill’s art on that Green Lantern story? Well, here’s the first few pages of ‘Tygers’ for you to see just how damn good it was: