As some may or may not know, Frank Miller’s Dark Knight trilogy comes to an end in Dark Knight 3: The master Race. a number of artists will be providing variant covers for the first issue due out in November. One of those artists is British legend, Brian Bolland. I thought, why not honor a legendary artist who may have fallen by the wayside in the last few years. Here is his most recent cover for said Batman story.
If you study at his art, you’ll notice that he has an incredible amount of subtle detail. His line work and his inking are nearly perfect. Some might say, too perfect. Almost machine like.
Regardless, every piece that he does is dynamic and meticulously thought out. He can make any cover pop. So much so , that he’s, pretty much made a career out of doing exclusively covers. I would hazard to say that he is one of the best comic book cover artists of all time.I don’t think he’s done any interior work since Batman: Black & White.
Of course he wasn’t always an exclusive cover artist. He made a name for himself quickly while working on 2000 A.D.
I had the pleasure of meeting Mr. Brian Bolland an number of years ago. He was kind enough to sign a few comics I brought in at no charge. The real treat was getting to see him draw. He was doing a commission for another fan. Bolland himself has said that a big reason he doesn’t take many interior projects is due to his ” slowness”. Having seen him in action, I can see why. As I said before, he’s meticulous and certainly a perfectionist. As we know, perfection takes time. But the end result is always a sight to behold. Here are a few projects to look into if you’re curios to see Brian Bolland at his best.
Judge Dredd – The Judge Death saga and others.
I think Bolland really made a name for himself working on the popular Judge Dredd strip. His realistic take became( for me) the definitive look for the character. When I think of Dredd’s face, I think of Brian Bolland’s version. His trademark scowl and large chin done to perfection. Bolland also helped to create Judge Death. Dredd’s ultimate nemesis. Track down these stories and take them in. The originals are a bit of a search but the stories themselves have been reprinted numerous times. I’ll never forget this classic panel below.
The above cover is one of my favorites of his lengthy run. While he didn’t do any of the actual interior work on the title, he did do a whopping 63 covers on it. This certainly elevated a character many considered “lame” at the time. His realism added a feeling of importance to the character that made it difficult for any reader to, at least, pick up the comic and take a look. Being on the title as long as he was also gave the series a constant look and standard. Having Grant Morrison writing the title for a number of years didn’t hurt either.
Another risk was working on the ambitious Camelot 3000. This is notable because it’s the longest run of interior work Bolland’s ever done. I think this is where Bolland really thought twice about doing interior work. Particularly on a monthly series because deadlines were not his specialty. It was a moderate failure at the time. Not in any part due to Bolland’s artwork but more toward a subpar story line. Not terrible, but not excellent either. I’d say this is a must have for Bolland completionists.
Batman: The Killing Joke
A Batman comic that needs no introduction to Bat-fans. Arguably the definitive Joker story of all time. This is Brian Bollands best work ever in my opinion. Brian Bolland was actually the one that pushed Alan Moore and DC to make this story happened. After months of hounding him, Alan Moore finally relented and delivered a fantastic script. Brian Bolland ran with it and gave art worthy of that script and more.
Every panel is like a cover to be studied. There are countless moments and images in this comic that have become iconic. The cover itself is an example of that. In typical Bolland fashioned, he took his time, but the reward is plain for all to see. It’s controversy as a story, has grown over the years, but the art still shines through regardless. In terms of the comic book medium, it’s definitely one of the most referenced stories of all time. Even the Dark knight film did an homage to this classic sequence.
Not exactly the same but when you watch the scene, you’ll know. I urge you to track down some of his work and enjoy for yourselves!