Thursday, December 10, 2020

No. 135 Abigail Bulmer and John Charles

Hero 135a Abigail Bulmer

First Prog: 1656
Latest Prog:

First Meg: 293
Latest Meg: 294

Total appearances: 82 and counting
including one cover colour credit...

Under-art by Paul Marshall

and an illustration credit on the 2018 Sci-Fi Special

Colouring Credits:
Ten Seconders
Grey Area
Judge Dredd
Sinister Dexter
Rogue Trooper

On Abigail:
To be honest I knew I recognised the name when I saw the credit in my daughter's Phoenix, but couldn't place it for a while. She's the artist on Claire: Justice Ninja (she's a ninja of justice). She's also done a bit of art for Rebellion on things like the Cor/Buster Specials ( I think?) and indeed drew the Terror Tale within the 2018 Sci-Fi Special:

To me, this has a real Beano feel. Except, you know, eeeevil.
Words by Olivia Hicks

but otherwise her work for Tharg has been as a colourist. She's racked up quite the prog count, sneaking past my radar with a name change from Ryder to Bulmer. But, you know, more to the point she's been producing cracking good colours for a bunch of greats, including Staz Johnson, Patrick Goddard and Dan Cornwell. 

Early Grey Area really was very Grey.
Under-art by Patrick Goddard; Words by Dan Abnett

Using colour to set simple mood and lighting
Under-art by Andrew Currie; Words by Eddie Robson

Lots of choices being made, all adding to the apocalyptic mood!
Under-art by Dan Cornwell; Words by John Wagner

Going for the full Kirby vibes from this Super-hero dissertation
Under-art by Edmund Bagwell; Words by Rob Williams

Colouring for children's comics IS a different proposition.
This conveys maximum information on mood, setting and above all letting
readers know who the main character is!
Under-art by Nick Roche; Words by Cavan Scott

I'm gonna single out one collaboration in particular. Bulmer has lately been colouring on top of no less a colour-mad artist as Richard Elson, in the last few serieses of Kingdom. Elson's work, going back a long way (like, Shadows), has always been about a very specific colour palette, and it speaks highly of Bulmer that she's made the transition seemless.

Bulmer took over for the series when Gene was mostly on a space station.
Those greens and oranges give total Elson vibes, though.

Love the shine on Gene's blade-thingies!

The most recent series of Kingdom took the action back to Earth, with a different vibe.
Gene's altered attitude is reflected in the speckled look.
Uder-art by Richard Elson; Words by Dan Abnett

My guess is Bulmer's colours will be in heavy demand, and we may yet get some of her pencils in the Prog.

More on Abigail Bulmer:
Here's her website - sadly can;t find any interviews or anything fun like that.

Hero 135b John Charles

First Prog
: 1230
Latest Prog: 2200

First Meg: 392
Latest Meg: 422

Total appearances: 69 and counting

Art credits:
Four one-offs and a bunch of covers
-but the bulk of his work for Tharg has been as a colourist, notably working with Jake Lynch on Dredd, and Steve Yeowell on Sinister Dexter

On John:
John Charles had a brief but respectable career in the early days of the Rebellion take-over, producing a number of covers and one-off strip jobs that bear all the hallmarks of a new droid in the making.

Aliens with mean faces, in a bar fight. It's a 2000AD tradition.
Words by Mike Carey



I guess you could say it feels a little young, certainly compared to 2000AD of the era, but it’s good comics. I’m rather partial to this future policeman design from his first published 2000AD strip.

I think its the helmet and moustache that really tie it together.
Words by Steve Moore

And here he is having fun with giant apes in a more recent story from his 'second stint' as a 2000AD regular: 

Notable for NOT being in colour! Nice compositions, too.
Words by TC Eglington

For whatever reason, that didn’t work out, but then a decade later he came back, and is now a regular fixture on both Prog and Meg as one of Tharg’s go-to colouring droids. As with a lot of colourists he’s typically paired with the same artist, rather than being linked to a specific story, and as such it can be hard to parse what Charles is bringing to the strip vs what the illustrator has laid out for them.

But when one of those illustrators is Steve Yeowell, you’ve got to imagine there’s plenty of room for Charles to bring his own ideas. Clean lines, decent chunks of space to work with. Plus of course there’s the essence of Sinister Dexter to think of. It’s mostly set in Downlode, a city that is meant to be shiny and futuristic – except we’re often visiting the more run-down parts. Charles's colour work tends to be of 'colouring things in more or less as they look in real life' variety, rather than playing too much with mood lighting.

I miss Sinister's red gloves
Words by Dan Abnett; Illustration by Steve Yeowell

Then there’s the titular ‘heroes’, flamboyant peacocks the pair of them, who don’t mind flashing a whole lot of red to stand out from the greys around them (and to remind the readers of all the blood on their hands). Except when they're relaxing at home.

So relaxed! And also a very sparse apartment.
Words by Dan Abnett; Illustration by Steve Yeowell

The world of Dredd is not a million miles from this, as far as the City goes. But this time it’s the citizens who want to stick out, while the Judges stick to the bleak, functional colours of oppression an authority.

A super-detailed drawing requires a painstakingly detailed colour job.
Illustration by Mark Sexton; Words by Michael Carroll


The colour of evil is purple!
Illustration by Jake Lynch; Words by Arthur Wyatt

Here are your Mega citizens, of all species.
Illustration by PJ Holden; Words by Kenneth Niemand

Whether Charles will get more strip work remains to be seen. He’s certainly good at it, and his day job as a comics art teacher will surely give him lots to draw on! But for now he's being kept plenty busy as a coloursmith.

Just for fun, why not compare and contrast these two John Charles covers both focussing on good old Finnigan Sinister, from two very different eras of his strip.



Not just different eras of Sinister Dexter, also different eras of what was fashionable artwise, and cover-designwise. But however you cut it, I’d say Charles has got a lot better.

More on John Charles:

A neat interview
Covers Uncovered  (for an IDW Dredd cover)
And a link to the course at
Staffordshire University where Charles has been (and still is?) a lecturer

Couldn't end without noting Charles's involvement in one of 2000AD's more recent bombshells... 

Not just one, but TWO of these people will die! Go read Prog 2200 if you haven't already...
Words by Dan Abnett; under-art by Steve Yeowell.



  1. Yes, sorry, Abby's name change was partly my fault. Bit confusing.

  2. Many congratulations!
    (years late I guess, but still...)