Saturday, April 8, 2017

No. 102 Jason Brashill

First Prog: 900 (on the cover); 950 (interior strip)
Latest Prog: 1431 (on the cover); 1422 (interior strip)

First Meg: 2.65 (aka issue 85, on the cover) 2.80 (aka issue 100, interior strip)
Latest Meg: 3.47 (aka issue 150)

I don't care how much it's riffing on that one Daredevil cover by Frank Miller,
this is for real one of my favourite ever Megazine covers. So dynamic!

Total appearances: 88
(of which 65 are on the cover)

Creator credits:
The Space Girls

Other art credits:
Judge Dredd
Judge Dredd/Batman

Notable character creations:
Outlaw, while a much better strip, has very much faded in obscurity. The Space Girls, which is borderline unreadable, has managed to slip into notoriety. And in fact, there was nothing wrong with Brashill’s basic character designs for the five heroes, especially when you think how un-sexualized four of them were compared to their real-world counterparts. Comics may have a sorry history of misogyny, but they got nothin’ on the pop music industry.

Notable characteristics:
Big round faces. HUGE muscles. Shininess. Pretty ladies, who may or may not be showing a little bit more flesh than is required.
Giving Dredd a round chin, or, rather, his usual square jaw but with a round chin on the front.
Overt comedy. Not all the stories Brashill worked on were out-and-out comedies (e.g. the horror story of in the Year 2120, but they cartoon-y style Brashill uses really emphasizes the way that comics are to be charming and funny, even when they’re telling darker stories.

Yes, this is a story about child soldiers, and it's hilarious.
Words by John Wagner
On Jason:
Flick through the Cover Zone on Barney, or enjoy one of the 2000AD cover montages on Youtube, and you can’t help but notice the way Jason Brashill* dominates the back half of the 90s. Like Cliff Robinson before him (and indeed after him), Brashill is, in Tharg’s eye anyway, a cover artist first and foremost, and only occasionally unleashed on strip work.

Shiny and muscley right from the get-go!
Unlike Robinson, Brashill’s style really isn’t like anybody else’s (although I do often mix it up with contemporary artist and I think friend Jim Murray). Partly for that reason, I invariably associate his style as the dominating look of the late 90s in 2000AD, aka the David Bishop years. And in my defence, Bishop took enough of a shine to the man that he was the glue that held together Prog 1000, a milestone Prog if ever there was one.

Not content with gracing the cover, Brashill also provided pin-ups for each of the strips within, as well as designing the look of brand-new character Outlaw, and drawing that series’ opening episode. There’s a lot of Brashill in Prog 1000, is what I’m saying.

Despite this, Brashill didn’t get to draw very many actual strips across his 10-year tenure with Tharg, even though he was on the cover a lot.

Mostly he worked on Judge Dredd, as befits someone who likes to tackle mayhem and violence with a comedic bent.

That's some LooneyTunes level ultraviolence right there, with that sheen of 2000AD gore.
Words by John Wagner

His earliest efforts, while not quite there with the draughtsmanship, are full to bursting with vim and brio, and a level of 10-year-old glee.

Some amazing paintwork on the texture, slightly curious posing on the man.
Words by Pat Mills

It made sense that he’d be the artist picked to develop hot new satire, the Space Girls. A series that only ran for five episodes, it actually sat in the Prog for ten weeks, as Brashill’s designs for each Girl graced the Output page. David Bishop, who commissioned and planned but didn’t actually write the strip is very keen to take all the blame. I suspect that’s fair. I also don’t blame him for trying, and certainly Brashill put a lot of effort into costumes and characterization. It just ended up feeling more like a Viz strip than a 2000AD one.

Five characters in search of a story
Words by John Tomlinson

Outlaw, by contrast, was a good fit for 2000AD in its basic tone. It’s a Western set on an alien world, based around the noble art of the gunfight – a cinematic tradition that works well in comics form, especially in a strip you can get lots of different artists to draw. I kinda liked it at the tie, and was looking forward to a second series that never came. If anything, it’s real problem was that it arrived hot on the heels of Sinister Dexter – and basically everything that was good about Outlaw – the art, the constant string of weirdo baddies, the Tarantino-esque shootouts – was all done either the same or better in that strip.

Super glorious panel layout here, and a real atmosphere of terror and grief.
Words by Paul Neal

With subsequent efforts, Brashill got better at the technical stuff, but in terms of style it’s all about the colouring and the texture. I’m pretty sure there was a switch from actual paints to digital paints at some point. Certainly his later efforts have that digital sheen to them; I think it suits his basic style better than the ‘real’ paint versions of old.

Simple, painted
Words by John Wagner

Shinier, digitaller
Words by Alan Grant

Shiniest, digitallest
Words by John Wagner

Based on the way his style evolved, I was not at all surprised to learn that Brashill soon stopped doing comics and started doing design / art work for computer games – in particular Left 4 Dead (Haven’t played it but I gather it’s rather popular).

Anyway, that’s quite enough of me rambling on. Let’s get to the good bit: a string of excellent covers from one of 2000AD’s premiere cover art stars…

You know you'd buy these in a heartbeat if they were real!

Phase 2: 2000AD is a magazine now...

Another one for the ages!

I love how DeMarco looks super-pissed off about being exploited to sell comics

Phase 3: more shinierer than ever before!

More on Jason Brashill:
A somewhat out of date 'where are they now' segment is about as much as I could find that covered his 2000AD time

Personal favourites:
Judge Dredd: Language Barrier; in the Year 2120; Christmas Angel; Apetown; After the Bombs

*How to pronounce his name? David Bishop clearly calls him Brash-ill on his recent Thrillcast & Mega City Book Club interview. Simon Pegg refers to him as Braaa-hill on the Spaced DVD. I remain none the wiser.

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