Frazer Irving is a British comics artist who has done work for UK titles like 2000 AD and Judge Death as well as working for American companies like DC Comics, Dark Horse Comics and Wizards of the Coast. He cites his influences as mostly comics and British TV (“…a never ending assault of sci-fi, horror, and the generally weird…” in his words); but somewhere he picked up a wonderful tendency to use great, fat brush strokes in a way that sometimes make his comics panels look like bizarre woodcuts.
His work tends toward horror and the macabre. One of his projects for Dark Horse Comics was a four issue mini-series (and trade paperback) called Fort: Prophet of the Unexplained (written by Peter M. Lenkov), ostensibly non-fiction about an actual 19th century paranormal investigator named Charles Fort.
I first encountered Frazer Irving as the artist of a DC Comics series penned by Grant Morrison (one of my favorite comics writers) called Klarion the Witchboy, which Morrison has folded into a story arc with other titles he writes (with different artists) to produce a larger story called Seven Soldiers of Victory. The relevant issues of the individual titles have been collected in sequence and released as a series of trade paperbacks under the Seven Soldiers title. I picked up the story because I like Morrison’s writing and was immediately struck by Irving’s unique drawing and coloring style.
His drawings are nicely stylized but still have a foundation of solid draughtsmanship. When coloring his own work (something that mainstream comics artists seldom do) Irving often meets the edges of discreet areas of color with broad “feathering” brushstrokes of color, a technique usually reserved for the application of black ink in comics, but nicely applied to color in his approach. That and his sharp use of blacks and large flat areas of color give Irving’s color work a unique graphic sensibility.
But it’s hard to focus on his color work, as nice as it is, when his black and white style is so captivating. Irving really has a good command of the language of black and white comics, even if the end result has color added. His pages are rich with blacks, nicely balanced between black and white areas, and punctuated with enough texture and rendering to give them a real snap. His style is particularly appropriate for the disturbing, horror-themed stories he often takes on, and has a great ability to deliver the shock of the story with real graphic punch.
In addition to his personal site linked below, there is a Frazer Irving page on the official 200AD site with articles and interviews and a gallery of Frazer Irving prints available on the unofficial 2000AD.org site.