Saturday, 18 June 2011


So I planned to write a quick post to highlight that artist Mick McMahon has his own blog now called 'Tugging Your Coat' - it's on my recommended blog list. Then I realised 'how could I just leave it at that?' . Mick has been the biggest influence on my work of any comics artist  this side of the pond. It's an influence that goes to my very core - let's see where that leads us?

I first saw his work on Judge Dredd in 2000AD , when the comic launched. I'm not sure I was that struck initially , his tough drawing style didn't fit with the other artistic influences in my life , American artist Bernie Wrightson and England's John Bolton were my blueprint for great comics. Mick was more like a musical influence , there was something punk about it , disrepectful , edgy. He evolved quickly too , shucking Carlos Ezquerra's blueprint off and making his own mark on Dredd bringing in the big chin , big boots. BLOCK WARS was the last Dredd he did from that period  - blocky indeed. The crowd scenes reputedly killed it for him  and he left Dredd.


Everybody's favourite McMahon work is SLAINE it seems. Everytime I ask this question I get the same answer. 'Sky Chariots ' is like the Rosetta Stone. It's also responsible for more McMahon-alikes than practically anything else he's done. Okay maybe Dredd has influenced a fair few. I've no issue with being influenced , except maybe a little when an artist fails to step out of the SHADOW. I'm as guilty as the next with regard to Mick , though my influence comes from a little later in his career. After returning to comics with the THE LAST AMERICAN ( after a being ill) , his work had evolved yet again. Mick has said in interviews that though he wasn't drawing , he  still was in his head. TLA is a tour de force ( go get a copy of the ComX album) if you don't believe me. Pretty grim too. The art has a level of detail not seen in his work before ( okay maybe SLAINE is a contender) , marker pens on watercolour paper with Magic Marker colours were used ( I know I sold him some at a shop). I remember seeing some pages in COMIC SHOWCASE and being stunned , my eye practically against the pages. All this detail was held together by extremely strong linear drawing , a style of drawing that became paramount to his work whilst detail was pared down. This work is my biggest influence. It taught me to try and see clearly , forget flourish and fancy mark making , simple direct drawing/storytelling rule. Sometimes I forget this lesson. Sometimes I need reminding and this page just did that. 

So today I run across a full page from HELLRAISER # 10 . I'm floored.Seriously. I'm reproducing it here with his consent. Clarity of drawing is the key. Just look at Pinhead's hands. Not a wasted mark. None of the flourish of SLAINE - this is the drawing of a new level. The composition is also worh noting - sexy without being sexist - I love how Mick has drawn her hair - shape and form , but not dead geometrey , there's that slight punky edge ( from DREDD) still there. 

Mick's next project is KESTRELS which could be his most personal too. I like what I've seen - the genius is still intact like I had any doubts...



  1. My first exposure to McMahon's work was on a Legend of the Dark Knight story, the name of which escapes me. And God, I HATED it. Blocky, wonky, weird. Where was the detail, the rendering, all that good shit. Is that supposed to be a hand? JESUS.

    Needless to say, I was an idiot. An idiot who, not coincidentally, was going through a major Image Comics period, lotsa cross-hatching and wasted ink. Fool. Now I get McMahon completely, and kind of hate my younger self for being such a dolt.

    Cool post, Ade.

  2. I think McM is one of those artists you have to learn to love. I didn't think much of Kirby as a kid , but now he's a God. I can understand the allure of realistic art but there comes a time to move on from straight representational work and explore stylistic forms.