Back in the hay day of comics (also known as the ‘80s), there was somewhat of a British Invasion. DC Comics’ then president, Jeanette Kahn, was looking to inject new energy into the company and went abroad to recruit British talent. The likes of writers Alan Moore, Grant Morrison, and Neil Gaiman definitely made an impact and shaped the way comics would lead in the future. The mature writing that said writers did inspired a little subgroup for mature readers, the legendary Vertigo Comics. There was also “discovered” British artists in the likes of Alan Davis, Dave Gibbons, and Brian Bolland.
I remember seeing the previews for Camelot 3000, the epic maxi-series by Mike W. Barr and Brian Bolland, and being very drawn to the art. It really popped even though comics were printed on newsprint back then. I think it was before DC’s “Mando” upgrade to a whiter, more durable paper stock that held the ink lines better and was more true to what the artist wanted to present.
Then, my brother Mark re-introduced me to his earlier British work via Judge Dredd. With his interpretation of Judges Anderson and Death along with Boing! (Look it up.) and his Mega City 1, I was cemented a fan for life.
Bolland’s art is very detailed and stylized. It’s his version of realism with which he creates a world that looks like you could live in it. His work is very clean without being stiff or wooden in a sort of … English Gentleman kind of way.
Following his career, I’ve read interviews with Brian over the years, and one of the things that always impressed me was that he inked solely with brush and ink. It takes a certain skill set to get those perfect strokes and straight lines; he is a real master of his craft. If you’ve seen his pencils, you’d know that they are almost as tight as his inks and often telling of the thought process. I was a little disappointed when he went digital. I guess being a little bit of an art snob, digital was a little hard for me to absorb at first. But Bolland proved me wrong as his digital stuff is equal to the way of the Bristol board (that’s what artists draw on if they aren’t creating the comic book art digitally).
Bolland, of course, is most known for the seminal Batman graphic novel, Batman: The Killing Joke, written by Alan Moore. Taking a year to produce, I can see why he might turn to doing covers only, although he could likely live off the residuals from the book if he played his cards right.
Prior to this, he did some Green Lantern work and killer contributions to the epic Batman and Superman #400 anniversary issues. Bolland also did several covers of the Vertigo title, Animal Man, written by Grant Morrison. The cover is supposed to sell the book, and Bolland definitely has what it takes to draw you in with his eye-catching covers, often with a wink and a smile or a dark British sense of humor vibe.
Of course, I was pleased as punch when he landed the assignment of regular cover artist of Wonder Woman with issue #63 through issue #100 and #0 issue cover only missing issue #93. I think that puts him up there, as most covers drawn along the likes of George Perez and Adam Hughes.
Bolland always made Diana look beautiful, regal, and definitely a warrior. His clean cover art successfully conveyed a story and a glimpse of what might lurk inside the comic. His cover run will definitely go down in the annals of comics history. Anyone who can make Wonder Woman look good in a Taco Whiz ball cap or her bicycle shorts, black bob wig, gloves, and jean jacket look good, they can make anything look good. Also, doing amazing cover runs on Batman, Robin, The Flash, and Zatanna to name a few.
You should definitely look up Brian Bolland’s Wonder Woman art (or any of his art for that matter) but definitely his Wonder Woman stuff.
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