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CREATOR PROFILE:

KEVIN O’NEILL

Biography:

Kevin O’Neill (1953 - ) is the British comics illustrator best known as the co-creator of The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen (with Alan Moore), Marshal Law (with writer Pat Mills), and Nemesis the Warlock (also with Pat Mills). Leaving school at 16, he began work at British comics publisher IPC as an office boy, rising through the production ranks, finally serving as art director on the weekly ground-breaking comic 2000AD, before quiting to become a freelance comic artist.

“I prefer marching to the beat of my own drum. Most of the strips I’ve worked on have been off-beat, even when mainstream, like Lobo or Batmite. Sacrificing my creative freedom for reasons of commerce is at odds with my nature. I’m content with operating at the fringe of mainstream comics. The creator-owned option is the most important one to me. Hell, we fought on 2000AD for creator credits, return of artwork, royalties… Perhaps some of us rocked the boat more because the boat was small and leaking and doomed anyway. But rights taken for granted now were not easily come by, and I suspect on both sides of the Atlantic it was just a handful of people making a difference. Publishers of old behaved like stern adults and treated creators like difficult children. Mostly a clip around the ear and, if you were lucky, a boiled sweet and smile. The British publishers started losing prime creators to the USA - they contradicted every story they had told us about rights and royalties leading to their demise. In the end they hung themselves. Greed and poor management cost us our once thriving British comic industry.”
Kevin O’Neill

Essential Reading:


The League Of Extraordinary Gentlemen
with Alan Moore
DC / Top Shelf / Knockabout

London, 1898. The Victorian Era draws to a close and the twentieth century approaches. It is a time of great change and an age of stagnation, a period of chaste order and ignoble chaos. It is an era in need of champions. Literary figures from throughout time and various bodies of work are brought together to face any and all threats to Britain. Allan Quatermain, Mina Murray, Captain Nemo, Dr. Henry Jekyll and Edward Hyde and Hawley Griffin, the Invisible Man, form a remarkable legion of intellectual aptitude and physical prowess: The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen.

Alan Moore says:
The sole idea we’d started out with was that a Victorian super-hero team of previously existing characters might be something fun to work on. Then we thought it might be interesting if we worked some of the era’s architectural fancies and fictions, or its technological wild ideas into our fantasy environment.. from that point on, all characters or names referred to in the strip would have their origin in either fictions written during or before the period in hand, or else in elements from later works that could be retro-engineered into our continuity by the invention of a father, grandfather or other predecessor.

Kevin O’Neill says:
Alan has provided me with new material so rich and demanding without asking me to adjust my style - in fact I adjusted it myself to suit the atmosphere, pacing and layout of the story and found myself drawing people and situations entirely new to my experience. Mina standing aloof or drinking tea was far more difficult for me than Marshal Law destroying and entire city block of evil super-heroes. I’ve reined in my bombastic style and I’m attempting small character traits and subtle body language, but I hope I’m still delivering the big operatic moments of drama when needed and the lurid and funny stuff that affords me cheap amusement… Alan’s scripts are so precise you ignore them at your peril. He is without question the greatest writer of graphic continuity comics have ever seen, with a triumphant gift for dialogue and silence.



Marshal Law
with Pat Mills
DC Comics

In a twisted, decadent future not so far away, the city once called San Francisco is now a war zone. The government has commissioned living weapons of mass destruction to wage war on terror. The survivors return home broken, bitter, insane - and almost unstoppable! Some form gangs, some go psycho. Some turn into A-list celebrities with A-bomb fists. Only one man knows the dark secrets these so-called ‘heroes’ are hiding. Only one man has the power to take on America’s best and brightest and bring them to justice. His eyes will reflect the rocket’s red glare. He is the twilight’s last gleaming. He is… Marshal Law.

Mark Millar says:
I love Watchmen, I love Dark Knight Returns and I worship Will Eisner, Stan Lee and Jack Kirby, but Marshal Law is still my favourite comic book of all time.

Pat Mills says:
Everything is really subordinate to one basic theme, which is: What is a hero? It’s a personal obsession of mine, I just find the whole false image of heroes really irritating. Rambo, Top Gun, they’re not just things you can walk out of a cinema and laugh at, people go and join the American army after seeing these fucking things. I think the subliminal message of superheroes is not too dissimilar. It’s almost a metaphor for American involvement in the Third World. A superhero comes along and interferes in somebody else’s life. Fuck off. What’s it got to do with you? How dare you come into our lives and say we’re going to rescue you from all these nasty military juntas, which are always Soviet, or they’re bloody terrorists. The whole theme of these things is superficial, It’s never: Why?



Nemesis The Warlock
with Pat Mills
Rebellion / 2000AD

Paul Gravett says:
With his horns, claws, hooves and steaming nostrils, Nemesis The Warlock looked demonic, except that he and his race are victims of the true monsters here, ourselves. Earth, or Terra, has elevated xenophobic genocide to a galactic scale, gripped by Torquemada’s bigoted doctrine known as Termight. It gave Pat Mills and Kevin O’Neill the chance to purge their childhood religious dogma and assault the evils of racism and religious bigotry.

Kevin O’Neill says:
This was my first chance at drawing a strip on my own from the ground up. By now Pat and I had become a close team - shared the same Catholic background and the same sense of humour… For me, my career really begins here. To start with, my odd style was not to everybody’s taste, but I guess my passion compensated for lack of art training and a rather raw drawing style. But pretty soon we found the series had a strong following, which further encouraged the bizarre directions we took.

 

Bibliography:

The League Of Extraordinary Gentlemen, with Alan Moore:
Vol 1 (2000)
Vol 2 (2003)
Black Dossier (2008)
Century: 1910 (2009)
Century: 1969 (2011)

Marshal Law, with Pat Mills:
Fear & Loathing (1987-1989)
Marshal Law Takes Manhatten (1989)
Kingdom Of The Blind (1990)
The Hateful Dead (1991)
Super Babylon (1992)
Secret Tribunal #1-2 (1993)
Pin Head vs Marshal Law #1-2 (1993)
The Savage Dragon / Marshal Law #1-2 (1997)
The Mask / Marshal Law #1-2 (1998)
Origins (2008)

2000AD stories:
Nemesis The Warlock: Books I & III (1980-1988) with Pat Mills
ABC Warriors: Meknificent Seven (1979) with Pat Mills
Robusters (1978-1979) with Pat Mills

Other Comics:
Batman: Mitefall (1995) with Alan Grant
Death Race 2000 #1-3 (1995) with Pat Mills & Tony Skinner
Lobo #21 (1995) with Alan Grant
Lobo Convention Special #1 (1995) with Keith Griffin & Alan Grant
Legends Of The Dark Knight #38 (1992) with Alan Grant
Metalzoic (1986) with Pat Mills

Short Stories:
Tales Of The Green Lantern Corps: Tygers (1986) with Alan Moore
The Omega Men #26: Brief Lives (1985) with Alan Moore

Interviews:
The Comics Journal #122
True Brits (2004)

Links:

Publishers:
DC Comics
Knockabout Comics
Rebellion / 2000AD
Titan Books
Top Shelf Productions