Today’s Fri-llustrator is one of my all time heroes. Of all the British comic strip illustrators I admire, my favourite is Mick McMahon. He has everything I look for in an strip illustrator – great draughtsmanship, storytelling, panel composition, design, imagination, style and above all, attitude. I had the great fortune of meeting Mr. McM quite a few times in the heady days of the mid-80’s when I briefly worked for Titan Books. I remember one day, I was struggling to place a masthead on a cover as the cover artist had drawn important detail in the area where the book title needed to go. Mick McMahon walks through the door, he sees me frowning deeply and asks what the problem is. I tell him. “That’s the problem with (artist name withheld)” he said, “the first thing I do before I do anything is to stick the logo up the top, THEN I start drawing”. I was reminded of this story when I saw this cover he drew for Judge Dredd magazine (pictured below). Not only has he allowed space for the masthead top left, but he’s also left space for other cover lines. And look at the overall compositon – not for Mr. McM to draw a bog-standard cover of Dredd in some corny pose, but instead, an extreme close up with falling figures to illustrate the story inside.
Throughout his 30-odd year career, his style has evolved constantly, going from the 2000AD-requested Carlos Ezquerra imitation to a flatter, angular look then to a more organic look today. He also produced different takes on this like his work for Slaine, where his scratchy pen work looked scratchier because he didn’t completely fill the solid areas of black. It really suited the content and somehow made Slaine look more dirty and tough, although he once told me that he only drew it like that “to wind his Editor up”.
For me though, my favourite style of his is the angular one. That style, combined with his terrific panel composition, makes for some of the most powerful strip imagery I have ever seen, as evidenced by this panel set from Batman (below) and is the kind of strip illustration I adore. It makes for great robots, too (see top illustration).
I feel that he isn’t as lionised as he should be and is a far bigger talent than the world gives him credit for. Although those in the know rate and respect him highly. I remember back in 1982, Frank Miller came over to talk to the Society of Strip Illustrators and when Mr Miller was asked who he wanted to meet while he was in England, he replied “Mick McMahon”. Currently, Mr McMahon is working on a new Tank Girl book, which should be out sometime this year, so keep your eyes peeled for that.
Well, folks, I have to shame-facedly admit I have drunk and eaten about ten times my body weight last week. Looking in the mirror now, I see not my reflection, but Henry the Eight’s. Or in my case, Henry One-Over-The-Eight’s.
As you know, last week I was in London, where Ubiq were trying to get Actionscript 3.0 into my dense cranium. And they are famous for their fabulous lunches. And then there was the meeting of friends in the evening. And they are famous for their fabulous dinners with fabulous amounts of alcohol. And then there was the all day barbeque on Saturday around the Runeckles, where I drank 90% of Stella Artois’ output for this year. This was accompanied by the now traditional truckload of burgers. In the evening, we dribbled over to the first Little Melton Beer Festival, (a weekend of camping, music and frankly, drinking until your eyes evaporated) where we had a few snifters to round off the diet Hiroshima I had been creating all day.
And yet, (and apologies for making you wait so long) in a complete perversion of all of the natural laws of planet Earth, I havn’t gained any weight!! Mind you, I havn’t lost any either, but that’s beside the point. What next week’s weigh-in will bring, I can’t imagine.
By the way, The First Little Melton Beer Festival had a rather sophisticated identity and signage programme, which I reproduce for you here.
And now, live from London, it’s this weeks Lardwatch! (*audience cheers*)
And here’s the result of last weekend’s weigh-in. The result is… (roll on drums) …the result is… (where’s that bit of paper?) …ah yes, nothing has changed! (*audience sighs*). I’m still 11 stones, 11 pounds which, considering there’s been no discernable weight-watching and certainly no exercise, is pretty good.
So why am I in London? Well, I’m studying Actionscript 3.0 at Ubiq in East Dulwich. Ubiq are a fabulous training facility and famous for their delicious home-cooked lunches. This is the third time I’ve attended a course there and if the food is anything like the other two occasions, I’m in for a treat. How this will affect next weeks weigh-in remains to be seen…
Today’s Fri-llustrator comes all the way from Edmonton, Canada. Step forward Illustrator, Publisher, Guitarist and all round clever so and so, Mr Raymond Biesinger. Mr B is self taught and started his career when he was managing editor of the University of Atlanta’s student newspaper The Gateway. He dreaded finding editorial cartoonists, so he decided to make the illustrations himself, got the bug and here he is today with a great body of work and a very impressive client list (New York Times, Wired, Fast Company, Monocle to name but a few).
I love editorial information graphics, especially at the more creative end, like the work of Peter Grundy for example. Raymond Biesinger’s work is kind of like a cubist version of that, but with twists and turns, producing images that look like they’re conveying information, but instead provide opinion.
I forgot to mention that last weekend Team Kirkendall went along to the see the touring stage production of High School Musical at the Theatre Royal, Norwich. As we sat in the theatre, waiting for the show to start, I texted my boss (who went last Friday) “High School Musicaaarrgghh!!!!’” which gives you some idea of how much I was looking forward to it. Anyway, iPhone off and curtain up, the performance began. And after a while, much to my surprise, I found myself really enjoying it. Never having paid much attention while watching the movies (and watching them in disjointed scenes as my kids just watch their favourite bits over and over again) I never actually realised it was a bit Romeo and Juliet-esque. Two cliqués with opposing views, plus two star-crossed lovers with some cheesy songs and hey presto – Shakespeare for the Bebo generation.
As I said, I really enjoyed it – it isn’t easy dancing and singing at the same time, let alone keeping it up for a two hour show. Plus I was riding a sugar rush like you wouldn’t believe as someone (me) had bought a big bag of Skittles, which nobody else likes. Ironically, my kids, whose Christmas present this was (yes, we did have to book THAT early) weren’t so impressed. They felt that the actor playing Troy wasn’t right for the part, the actor playing Sharpay’s twin brother should’ve played Troy, Grabriella (the female lead) wasn’t right either and that a lot of the staging was bad. On the plus side, they did like their sweets.
Andy B in our studio came across this fab stop motion animation by Bang-yao Liu, created for his senior project at Savannah College of Art and Design. It’s inspired by his struggle with work and deadlines and the post-it notes used to combat both. I think it’s really great. So does Ashton Kutcher and you can’t argue with that.
I meant to post this ages ago, so I thought I better post-it now (sorry…)
In a mystery that would confound Sherlock Holmes, I have reached lazy weight watchers nirvana. With no exercise and loads of food (to combat the last stage of my man-flu) I have somehow lost two pounds this week. Two pounds! That’s twice as much as one pound! Well, long may it continue. Due to my duties as SUPER-TAXI-DRIVER-FOR-MY-KIDS-MAN, I won’t be cycling until Thursday this week and next week I’m on a course in London, where the calories will be high and the exercise will be low. So the weekly prayer at the altar of the scales will be interesting to say the least. Here’s hoping there’s more of less next week…
Firstly, apologies for the non-appearance of Fri-llustrator-day last week, I was suffering from a time-surplus deficit, plus man-flu. But to celebrate my return to rude health, may I present another illustrator from Philadelphia, Mr Tim Gough (I featured Mr Andy Rementer in February).
I love his stuff – fantastic hand-lettering, great strong stylish drawings with a dash of retro, wonderful use of colour, all backed up by great concepts, which, as he says in his recent interview with Grain Edit, illustrations are meaningless without. Well said, Mr G!
A designer at Virgin Money, Steve Kirkendall does lots of luvverly creative stuff, when he’s not doing amends. This site is about graphic design, illustration, comics, animation and web design. But mainly, it’s about Steve Kirkendall.
If you want to say "Hi" mail him at:– steve at kirkendall dot co dot uk.