LIFE TURDS have prevented me from finishing my long promised post on Julia Scheele‘s comics, so here’s a quick ramble about the dick-slap aesthetics of Nemesis the Warlock and Marshal Law that I stole from my own twitter account…

Matt Maxwell once asked me if I had any thoughts on NEMESIS THE WARLOCK.  I do, and they’re all blurred by time & distance but here we go!

In Alec – how to be an artist, Eddie Campbell described Mills & O’Neilll’s NEMESIS as “the wicked satire of a rejected Catholic upbringing”. I wouldn’t presume to be able to improve on that description, but it does point towards what’s so good about *O’Neill’s* NEMESIS.

Don’t get me wrong, plenty of good artists have drawn NEMESIS (including Bryan Talbot, for fuck’s sake!) but O’Neill made it look *naughty*. This is what separates his baroque atrocities from similar dystopias (Warhammer 40K, etc): the heavy metal fanfare never obscures the man.

Much as I like NEMESIS, thinking about it out loud reminds me that MARSHAL LAW was always my favourite Mills/O’Neill collaboration.

O’Neill’s art on MARSHAL LAW would look fucking great scratched into a bus stop, or sprayed onto the side of a building – you couldn’t graffiti in that Warhammer 40K style, you’d get huckled before you finished the first carefully buffed and shame splattered shoulder-pad…

But MARSHAL LAW… that shit, you could just about get away with.  Mills’ writing is most efficient in that context too, I think – after all, it so often feels that his words are intended to wound rather than reform.

See Alan Moore’s essay on comics’ pre-history in OCCUPY COMICS for a stealth argument that Mills and O’Neill’s style of comics is in keeping with the *true* spirit of comics past, the piss-take on the flip side of the monument, the sly dig on the side of the milk carton, etc.  O’Neill’s comics feel like part of the lived environment – they lie in wait in newsagents for unwary minds, they creep up behind us while we wait for the 66 on Victoria Road, they etch themselves into desks and jotters, scowling out defiantly at all who might find them. See, also, the first volume of Hitch/Millar’s THE ULTIMATES for an example of how much more toxic this type of storytelling feels when presented with a sheen of Hollywood Realism – special guest star George Dubbya Bush!

So, not too many actual thoughts on #NEMESIS there, but repurposing this old twitter rant has definitely made me want to reread it, so thanks again Matt!

One Response to “Flashback to… Kevin O’Neill!”

  1. Roadswim Says:

    It’ true – there’s something fantastically and grotesquely unwholesome about O’Neill drawing Nemesis that isn’t there in the other artists’ versions (though they bring a bunch of their own good shit, of course. Mills’ words for Nemesis (and generally) often feel that they’ve been coughed up, and O’Neill’s art is uniquely capable of embodying that grungy feel, as though dragged up in a bucket from ‘that foul rag and bone shop, the heart’…shit, I just quoted Yeats like it was no thang…

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