A Strontium Dog In London

Last weekend, I had a phone call from my mate Spike. He was in London on a training course with work and his employer had put him up in a hotel.

It just happened to be the same hotel that 2000AD were using to host their 40th anniversary bash on the same weekend and, as none of his coworkers were particularly interested, he had to share the news with someone, hence the phone call to me.

Later in the evening, he mailed me this picture:

rennie_gibbons_ezquerra

That’s Gordon Rennie, Dave Gibbons in the middle and while I sort of recognised the guy on the right, I had to get Spike to confirm who it was. When he told me it was Carlos Ezquerra, whose artwork I adore, I had to ask Spike a favour – if he had the chance, and if Ezquerra was up for it, to get a sketch of Johnny Alpha for me. If Ezquerra was charging, I’d pay anything.

Long story short, Spike hung out with various artists and writers over the weekend (when he wasn’t on his training course) but didn’t see Ezquerra again. Having finished his course on the Sunday, Spike returned to the hotel, left his bags at reception and did one final sweep of the meeting rooms but pretty much everyone had gone.

He headed back to reception to get his bags . . . only to find Ezquerra waiting for a taxi. Being the absolute diamond he is, Spike asked him if he’d do a sketch for me. I can only guess Ezquerra is just so used to drawing Judge Dredd that he grabbed some hotel stationery and started this:

ezquerra_sketch_dredd

 

before Spike stopped him and said “Actually, Gary’s a big fan of Johnny Alpha.”

Taking another page, Ezquerra started again and, just a few minutes later, Spike had the following which he later mailed to me and is currently sitting on my desk:

ezquerra_sketch_johnny_alpha

How cool is that?!

Huge thanks to Carlos Ezquerra for doing that, and even bigger thanks to Spike for getting it for me. I owe you some serious beer, my friend.

Reliving My Youth

A couple of weeks ago I saw Future Shock! The Story of 2000AD, a documentary about the British comic I grew up reading in the lates 70s and early 80s. The film had interviews with many of the founders, influential artists and writers, and obviously talked about some of the big stories and characters the comic had featured. Over the last few years, I’ve been collecting various 2000AD reprints, chief among them the Judge Dredd Complete Casefiles and the Strontium Dog collections – I always preferred Johnny Alpha to Dredd.

The documentary, though, made mention of a story from the early years that I’d never seen collected – the Dan Dare strip illustrated by Massimo Belardinelli and then, much clearer in my memory, Dave Gibbons. It’s possible that this may have been my first introduction to Gibbons’ work, the clean, clear line work making a big impression on me.

It then slipped from my mind until the weekend just gone when I hunted around and, sure enough, found this little beauty:

Dan Dare The 2000 AD Years

Three hundred plus pages of gorgeous art lovingly reproduced in a big hardcover. I normally have a strict reading order with the trades and collections I pick up but this might just bump its way to the top.