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Brian Bolland

From Academic Kids

Brian Bolland is an artist, most famous for his highly detailed comics artistry and covers. He is particularly known as one of the foremost Judge Dredd artists for British comic 2000 AD.

Bolland was born in 1950 in Lincolnshire and began drawing comics at the age of ten. As a child his main inspiration were titles by Dell Comics and Bolland has said in interviews that he was never entirely comfortable with the superhero idiom of Marvel and DC.

While at art school Bolland drew and self published a couple of fanzines and sent work to underground magazines. In 1972 he met Dave Gibbons who provided him with his first regular work "Powerman" an African superhero comic published in Nigeria. It was Gibbons who introduced Bolland to 2000AD, at first inking some of his pencils and then drawing covers and stand-alone pages. When another artist dropped out Bolland was called in to complete a Judge Dredd story in issue 41 and soon was established as a regular artist on the series. Bolland's early work on Dredd was much influenced by Mike McMahon who was regarded as the senior artist on the strip and would redraw characters or panels if he was not happy with them. Early on though Bolland's distinct abilities with subtle facial expression, dramatic lighting and the dynamic composition of page layout began to emerge. Bolland's memorable contributions included the introductions of Judge Death and Judge Anderson. In between Dredd assignments Bolland drew horror strips for the "House of Hammer" anthology and stories for Doctor Who Weekly.

Len Wein brought to the US market as the artist on DC's Camelot 3000 12-issue maxi-series, with Mike Barr (dealing with the return of King Arthur to save England from an Alien invasion in the Year 3000), and on the Batman graphic novel Batman: The Killing Joke, written by the legendary Alan Moore.

The Killing Joke, published in 1988, details a possible (now almost entirely assumed as canonical) origin story for the villain The Joker, as being a failed stand-up comedian. The story also delves deep into the interaction between the Batman, Commissioner James Gordon, and Gordon's daughter Barbara (a former Batgirl, later the technological genius Oracle). The finer points of the Joker/Batman dichotomy, and how each are on the brink between madness and sanity is ably explored, and the ending has become a slight point of contention over the off-panel happenings, with some fans suggesting the Batman murders the Joker. (See here.) (http://progressiveruin.com/archives/2004_03_01_archive.html)

Bolland is much more famous as a cover artist however, and has contributed covers — in many cases to complete runs/arcs — to some of the more famous landmark comics of recent years. Examples of his work include the whole second and third volumes of Grant Morrison's The Invisibles, a large run of Animal Man (also by Morrison), and assorted issues of Tank Girl, The Flash, Superman, Green Lantern, Wonder Woman, Batman, and so forth.

He is also noted for his use of bondage imagery in some of his work, in particular his work for adult comics.

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