Thursday, January 19, 2017

No. 94 Dermot Power

First Prog: 699 (on the cover) 722 (interior strip)
Final Prog: 1107 (on the cover) 1031 (interior strip)

Megazine: he’s drawn three covers but no strips.

Total appearances: 93
-not including that set of Judge Dredd Sega adverts he drew…

Words by unknown - althoguh it's a fair bet
Richard 'computer games' Burton was involved.
(and it’s depressing to me that it’s easier to find blogs writing about old Sega adverts than it is about old 2000AD artists)

Art credits:
Judge Dredd

Notable character creations:
Marty Zpok


Notable characteristics:
Painting. Figures. Expressions. Somewhat leathery skin. Men and women with sinewy, lithe musculature vs crazy OTT bulges. Just being kind of good without showing off about it.

Early Power was all into defined musculature.
(and yes, that's Judge Hershey on the left)
And, it must be said, being compared to Simon Bisley for no reason other than that he came afterwards and was put onto all the same strips.

On Dermot:
Although he got his start on Dredd, and some fun ones too, Dermot Power is held back in my memory for two things – having illustrated a Dredd story I really didn’t like* (he did a lovely job himself, mind), and being a stand-in for Glenn Fabry on a Slaine story that, at that time, felt as if it didn’t need to exist at all**.

Nifty painting, and nothing inherently wrong with the idea of Judge Dredd fighting a reincarnated Mummy
But the story execution was... lacking.
Neither of these things have any bearing on Power’s quality as an artist. If anything, both speak highly of it: he made an execrably bad Dredd readable, and then he kind of put Fabry to shame by taking over as the regular Slaine artist for a while, providing timely and consistently excellent fully painted work.

Getting back to the beginning, Power was a rotating regular on Ennis Dredd, poking fun at early 90s pop culture from Edward Scissorhands (a reference most readers would get today) to the Word TV show (a reference even people who watched the Word might not pick up on today).

It's Teddy Choppermitz!
Words by Garth Ennis
I’ve a particular soft spot for Marty Zpok, the po-faced rockist music lover from Musak Killer, who eschews anything breezy and pop, and anything that isn’t old. Ennis’s script calls for someone entirely irritating and unlovable. Power delivers him, but pushes it far enough to make him a figure of fascination. The way he looks and dresses is almost cool, if it wasn’t quite so calculated, making him both pathetic and, yes, sad.

Zpok offs Dani Behr - or was it Amanda de Cadanet?
Words by Garth 'bile' Ennis
(and on the art side, do note the lovely creases in the shirt and jacket)
But I’ll be damned if I didn’t sneak a thrill along with ol’ Marty Zpok as he stalked the corridors looking for pop stars to off, all while cranking up his fave rock tunes on his walkman.

Who of us hasn't wanted to murder a few people simply because they have bad taste?
Words by Garth Ennis

And I’d also be lying if I said I didn’t enjoy panel to panel moments from Book of the Dead, because Power rendered some lovely drawings.


I can't get enough of that old body horror magic.
Words by Grant Morrison

The Mummy design for villain Ankhor was also a neat touch
Power captures the Clint Eastwood scowl that Dredd prefers for his one-liners.
Words by Morrison/Millar.

On Slaine, he’s a different proposition. Where Dredd and his fellow judges are sort of sewn into their uniforms, Slaine is looser, freer, and presumably painted in a different style so it looks different anyway. Plus of course he was probably asked to mimic Glenn Fabry as much as possible, especially on his first few episodes. It’s always a little odd seeing one artist trying to be another, but it doesn’t stop Power from bringing the mayhem and slaughter.


Some beautiful layout and design choices goin on in this sequence, no?
Words by Pat Mills
Elfric's warp-out is clearly inspired by Fabry's version, but it's also its own thing.
Veins and muscles agogo!
Words by Pat Mills
 By the time of Treasures of Britain, Power’s painterly confidence had surely grown.

Some wicked details in the design and shne on the armour.
Words by Pat Mills
His Guledig, nothing like David Pugh’s masterfully blobby and grotesque creation, nevertheless manages to be sinister and deliciously agile, effectively a redesigned creature that makes very different use of the three-legged aspect.

That is a fantastically rendered sequence, and a proper scary-looking Guledig at the end.
And his Ukko is endlessly charming.

Leering Ukko

Resentful, terrified Ukko
Words by Pat Mills
Power’s painting prowess was put to serious use on a brace of covers timed to sell in big numbers, coinciding with the Blockbuster that was Judge Dredd, the motion picture.


This Megazine cover is real tromp l’oeil stuff; I don’t think it occurred to me that this might not be a photo until I was scrolling through Dermot Power covers. I'm going to be pretty embarrassed if it's just an attribution error on Barney...


The Prog version is definitely a Power painting, but it’s also a better piece of work. Not simply an incredibly accurate rendering of a photograph, but a capturing of what Stallone wanted his Dredd to feel like (noble, heroic, all that stuff that didn’t quite come through in the finished film).

One of the clearest ways to see Power's evolution as an artist is to compare is covers over time. I think a lot of it is in the surface, rather than the composition, and may simply be the result of changing to different pens/brushes/paints, or perhaps even some early digital trickery (certainly he seems to be all digital today).

His very first cover is brutal and impressive, sending off Necropolis in style:

I like it a lot, but compare it to this much later Judge Death cover, which is more relaxed, less stiff and precise:


Then there's the murky montage on a Sci-Fi Special:


which is again delightful in its detail, but a little haphazard compared to this masterful triangle piece on the Megainze:


Power's Dredd, too, undergoes a shift from frantic:


 to fun:

But, Hollywood and storyboarding beckoned, so no chance for us to see Power’s more comics-friendly style in action on a strip. Heigh-ho.

More on Dermot Power:
His website has some original art links from his 2000AD days
and a handy bio:
-I feel like he’s one of the few artists who has yet to be interviewed in the Megazine.

Power adds his own face to the list of artists who have drawn themselves as Slaine
(and not as Ukko...)

Personal favourites:
Judge Dredd: Muzak Killer; Muzak Killer: Live!
Slaine: Queen of Witches; Treasures of Britain

*Book of the Dead, the one where Dredd fights a mummy in Egypt.

**At the time, the Horned God felt as if it was a proper end for the whole Slaine saga. Having Fabry back on Demon Killer was something of a draw; having Slaine back felt like an unnecessary cash-in. Turns out we were wrong, although personally I only came to appreciate this after reading it all again in the collections. 1990s Slaine – way better than I remembered.

1 comment:

  1. It's Danni Minogue! They mention her sister, who died at the Ramsay St Bop, and she calls him Sport!!! Also that 'wait a minute, aren't you ... Yep >BANG<!' scene is a reference to the start of Ice T's Bodycount album.