Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Mick (Mike) McMahon

Mike (Mick) McMahon
Michael (Mick or Mike) McMahon is a British comics artist who was influential in hammering out the look and feel of Judge Dredd, as well as working on a number of other important characters for 2000AD. McMahon took over on Dredd from Carlos Ezquerra, initially mimicking his style at the editor’s request, but soon putting his own stamp on the character. I was tempted to use the word “refined”, but it’s not a good choice. McMahon’s early work on Dredd was anything but refined, coming at you with a raw, slap-in-the-face immediacy.

McMahon has evolved through numerous stylistic changes in his career, but he is best know for highly stylized drawings in which his characters are created with blocky, angular shapes, peppered with texture.

From the U.S., it’s hard to get anything but scattered glimpses of the UK comics scene, mostly from reprints and album collections, so I don’t know much about how his career progressed or how stylistic influences might have passed between artists like McMahon, Kevin O’Neill, Brian Bolland, Ian Gibson and Dave Gibbons. Viewed from across the Atlantic, it all seems to have arisen from the same boiling caldron.

McMahon did small bits of of work for American comics publishers, notably a Batman: Ledgends of the Dark Knight story, and could be found in titles like The Last American and Tattered Banners.

Judging from his web site, he has apparently been dividing his time lately between comics and art for the gaming industry.

Some of my favorite work of his was for Slaine, a Celtic barbarian hero, in which his style was much more detailed, and, well, if not “refined”, more controlled. In his drawings for Slaine (image above), McMahon filled his areas of black with wild scratchboard textures, giving the feeling of reading a comic story drawn in woodcuts.

[Thanks to Simon Rodgers for reminding me about McMahon, see my post on Simon Rodgers]

12 thoughts on “Mick (Mike) McMahon

  1. Sim-r

    FANTASTIC…..cheers for the website link .
    Mike has had an overwhelming influence on me over the years particularly in the way he uses shape and angles in such a bold and intentional manner .Each world had it’s own laws and everything in those worlds obeyed them .Dynamite stuff .
    His Slaine work is fantastic , particularly the flying druid ships etc .Probably the biggest impression he made on me was with “The last american ” .I did not understand what he was trying to do when I was younger but as the years progressed my eyes opened .I think the guy is just genius .

    Cheers Charley and Pj for the links .
    Everyone should check out pj’s work also – another extremely talented contributor to the well noted UK comics scene.

  2. peter w

    Ahhh wonderful stuff, Charley. There’s no doubt to me that Mike McMahon’s influence on comics art and popular culture in general was absolutely seismic, and it’s such a relief these days to see the man finally being paid his due. I think that it’s probably true to say that his brief stint on ‘Slaine’ elevated McMahon into that very special group of the absolute European elite, up there with Giraud, Druillet, Pratt and the rest, and it just seems a tragedy to me that we’ve never really had the comics industry here in the UK to properly support that kind of astonishing talent. Mike McMahon is the reason I draw today.

  3. Charley Parker Post author

    I agree that it’s unfortunatel if UK comics artists have to take on other jobs to make ends meet; although, for those of us in the US, it’s sometimes nice that UK artists will take on jobs from the comics companies here and we get to see their work.

  4. Charley Parker Post author

    You may be right, Li-An, some Jose Munoz, maybe some Hugo Pratt and other European comics artists mixed in with the influence from other UK artists. I don’t see that much influence from mainstream American comics artists.

  5. Carlos Jiron

    In 2000, I buy a drawing in paper with black tinta–ink– Is a horse head, is signed with the name Mcmahon. I do need, to be sure who is the artist. Please help me. Carlos.

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