Sunday, December 1, 2013
KEVIN O'NEILL NEMESIS COMMISSION
Now this is something to behold, if I do say so myself. Hanging proudly over my desk right as I type, this piece is something of a grail to me. I picked up my first issue of 2000AD in 1981 and sandwiched between the spectacular work of Carlos Ezquerra and Brian Bolland lay Nemesis the Warlock, as written by Pat Mills and illustrated by the almighty Kev O'Neill. To say my ten-year old world was upended would be something of an understatement.
O'Neill's artwork is difficult to properly describe to those unfamiliar with him. Of all the artists to grace the pages of 2000AD over the years, his is surely the most original and inventive. There's really nobody to compare him to. He's a true visionary. His sense of design is startling and there's a wealth of creativity and energy spewing from his art that can be overwhelming to the layman. It's too easy to look at it and label it surreal. 'Surreal' suggests that nothing makes any sense - that it's just random subconscious imagery mashed together, but the world O'Neill creates here (and later on in the likes of Metalzoic, Marshal Law and League of Extraordinary Gentlemen) isn't randomly designed. Everything slots together here. It's just so completely alien to anything else you've ever seen before. It's no surprise he became the first comic artist to have his work banned by the American comics code as being unsuitable for younger readers.
I have spoken to Kevin O'Neill twice. Once on the phone courtesy of a friend managing a comic store in Dublin who wouldn't tell me who was on the other end. Naturally, I made a complete tit of myself. Completely starstruck. Tripped over my own words and died of embarrassment afterwards until years later when I met him here in Los Angeles for a LOEG signing. He remembered the phone call and I managed to say how much his work meant to me without sounding like a complete and utter fuckstick. Man's a total gent.
In between those two encounters, an old girlfriend secretly commissioned this from the grand master. I'll never know how much it cost her to get this drawn up and I've never seen another commission by O'Neill since, certainly nothing with this kind of attention or detail, so in the unlikely event she reads this, I hope she knows I know how lucky I am to have it. And that every other girlfriend has looked at it since and thought "how the fuck am I going to beat that?"