25 March 1961: 9.14 a.m. my first Poo.
Sick and weedy as a kid, I blossomed into a sick and weedy teenager – left school a year early to study illustration at Twickenham Art College, where I got a degree in advanced drunkenness and multicolored hairdos. First professionally published at 15. First professional comic-strip work: Jackinblack in‘Strangled’, the Stranglers fan club magazine. Started work on ‘Slaine’in 2000AD as a sick and weedy adult in 1984, 3 years after leaving college. In between, I did portraits, painting in shop windows, advertising (papers and TV), caricatures, sign painting, tattoos, cartoons, pet portraits, Xmas cards and cashier work in a garage. Moved to Brighton in 1990, after working on pre-production for Paramount Pictures First American job: Hellblazer cover #52 for DC Comics 1992.Married Nikki, Brighton 1993, August 14. First Preacher cover: April 1995. 22 Jan 1997: Tom Born. 7 Aug. 1999: Kitty Born. August 2000: Last Preacher cover. October 15th, 2002: First nude Centerfold.
Working Klass Superhero
When I was 17, a punk rock fan at Richmond art college (England, not Virginia) me, Steve Brown, John Mould, Kev Pike, Martin Constable and Charismatic Barry did a fanzine called ‘Working class superhero’ which was printed by the drummer of Steve’s band ‘Bam Bam’ (band not drummer). We used to hawk it around comic marts up in London in the late 70’s, early eighties. It sold well and a surprising amount of professional types bought copies.
Bryan Talbot was one, and he recommended me as a potential ‘art robot’ to Pat Mills for ‘Slaine’, the Celtic warrior in Britain’s flagship weekly 2000AD (which is still going). I had the daunting task of following Mike McMahon, one of my favourite artists. It went down well. Deadlines were scary, I was asked to draw all sorts of things I hadn’t considered before, and work shifts of 48 hours or more became commonplace – but the money was good, I loved the character and stories, comics were doing well in England and we even beat Judge Dredd in the opinion polls for a few weeks (which was a big deal).
Then 2000AD became a colour magazine, basically thanks to the great artwork on Slaine by Simon Bisley (who took over the character from me). I could still remember how to paint from college days and landed my first painted cover work on Fleetway publications ‘Crisis’ and ‘Revolver’.
Garth & John
That was when I first met Garth Ennis and John Macrae.
I’d gone to the office to deliver a cover for crisis, a Brit monthly which was P.C. before P.C. set in. A politically aware, ecological, feminist magazine broaching ‘sensitive’ issues in the comic strip medium. It bizarrely ended up reprinting Milo Manara soft porn. This was more or less where I started doing covers at the expense of strip work (my true love, after beer…..). Garth and John were down to London to talk about ‘Troubled Souls’, their Northern Ireland troubles strip. There was a moment in it where this guy is handed a gun to keep for the IRA, which was handled so deftly, I can remember thinking ‘this is pretty damn good’.We all liked a pint (or ten).
Macrae is actually the nicest man in comics, apart from Liam Mcormack-Sharpe – I’ve been trying to find a way so that these two can meet in a vicious no-holds barred iron man death match, gouging allowed, to finally settle the issue. Garth sort of pissed me off by saying he’d loved my stuff since he was 13 which may me feel about 300 years old, but we got on great and every now and again.I’d go over to Belfast and have a laugh with the English Army pointing their rifles at us and lock-ins till the sun came up.
Preacher & Hellblazer
Steve Dillon I’d known for some years before through 2000AD. He was (and still is!) a year younger than me, but has been in print about seven years longer, starting at the precocious age of three. He always reminds me of that French actor Jean-Paul Belmondo, if Belmondo could draw really well and stop speaking in French. When Garth and Steve teamed up it was Laurel meets Hardy, Martin and Lewis, Orpheus and the Underworld, Torville and Dean. For Hellblazer, and later Preacher, we became bacon, lettuce and tomato sandwich .
1993 Will Eisner Comic Industry Awards – Nominee – Best Cover Artist: (for Hellblazer and The Spectre [DC])
1994 Will Eisner Comic Industry Awards – Nominee – Best Cover Artist: (for Hellblazer and Vertigo Jam [DC/Vertigo[)
1995 Will Eisner Comic Industry Awards – Winner – Best Cover Artist: (for Hellblazer [DC/Vertigo])
1998 Will Eisner Comic Industry Awards – Nominee – Best Cover Artist: (for Preacher and various Preacher Specials [DC/Vertigo])
1999 Will Eisner Comic Industry Awards – Nominee – Best Cover Artist: (for Preacher and Hellblazer [DC/Vertigo]; and Aliens vs. Predator: Eternal [Dark Horse])
2000 Will Eisner Comic Industry Awards – Nominee – Best Cover Artist: (for Preacher [DC/Vertigo])