Today I have a really weird piece for the comic book fans among you. But first a little backstory;
From 1985 to 1997 London was home to the United Kingdom Comic Art Convention. The UK didn’t have many comic cons and this one, while far smaller than many American shows, was eagerly anticipated every year by UK comic fans as an unprecedented opportunity to talk to the major comic companies and to rub shoulders with British and American creators, though in the case of the creators, you usually had to track them down in the on-site bar. No, really.
These were amazing cons. I got to meet Alan Moore, Steve Bissette and John Totleben during the height of their work on Swamp Thing and was at the talk where Moore first revealed his idea for a little upcoming comic called Watchmen. I got to chat to Brian Bolland, whose linework I’d long worshiped on such strips as Judge Dredd. Anyway, I could goob for days but let’s get to the point of this tale…
Like most comic cons, there was an accompanying con-booklet bursting with new images from fresh and established talent. One year I decided to give it a try because I’d gotten a mad idea that didn’t want to shut up and leave my brain.
Tidbit #1; By now you’ve probably heard of Neil Gaiman. At that time, he was mostly known for his comic book Sandman which features Dream, the personification and master of dreams and his six siblings collectively known as The Endless. The most popular and enduring of these personifications is Death, who appears as a cute gothy girl with an unusually sunny disposition given her rather harsh vocation.
Tidbit #2; 2000AD has been the most popular comic in the UK for decades. And no character is more popular than Judge Dredd, the toughest cop in the harsh Mega-City of the future. From a rich rogues gallery that’s been developed over 34 years, no enemy deserves the rank of nemesis more than Judge Death, a member of the Dark Judges, a dark mirror to Dredd from a dimension where it was decreed that all crime was committed by the living and so their perverse logic made life a crime.
See where I’m going with this?
Death and Judge Death. I just couldn’t believe nobody had ever done a mashup with these two. Then there was a Death mini-series released called Death: The High Cost of Living and suddenly I had my title for the piece…
Death: The High Cost of Copyright
Click to see it in its full glory.
It still gives me a chuckle to this day and I decided the time was right to share it with you.
Now, this puppy was done pre-Photoshop era. The text and its torn strips in negative had to be done the old fashioned way: The lettering was the old Letraset rub-down lettering. I used to spend hours looking through the cool but very expensive sheets of fonts. Crazy to imagine now that you could actually run out of a certain letter in mid-picture.
Anyway, after rubbing down the lettering to make the title I photocopied it and then photocopied it again but this time in negative. This white lettering on black actually had to be printed out at about 102% due to some weird printing anomaly that actually shrank the negative very slightly. So I took the handful of negative sheets and tore them up, arranging the more interesting pieces over their positive version. So the final version ended up with a little bit of collage.
I’ve no idea where the original is now. It, like all the other booklet art, was auctioned off for charity. Hell, I even bid for it because I wouldn’t have minded having it back but it went to someone who was a bit more determined and equipped with deeper pockets. I hope it’s still safe and framed somewhere.
I wouldn’t mind redrawing the piece, frankly. I always knew that Death (of the Endless) should have been prettier and there’s rather a lot of fussy unnecessary shading that’s always a dead giveaway for a lack of confidence. Also, the foreground figures should be a bit larger. And I could do the title without using a frikkin’ photocopier now! : p
Yeah, sometime I think I will take another shot at this.
I’ve still never seen anyone else mashup these two versions of Death. If anyone finds any, be sure to let me know in the comments.