Since then, McMahon's work has been sporadic and infrequent. He's been mostly involved in the world of video game design work but he did recently return to 2000AD to draw Judge Dredd on the occasion of the comic's 30th birthday.
All of which brings me to the reason why I decided to pen this blog entry. Mick was one of the guests of honour at this year's International Comics Show at Millennium Point in Birmingham, along with Kevin Nowlan, Mike Mignola, Doug Braithwaite, Mike Carey, Dave Gibbons, Bryan Talbot, Sean Phillips, Duncan Fegredo and many others. I was there as part of the Tripwire posse and, to my utter delight and fan-boyish glee, I got to talk to the great man. He's a shy and unassuming chap who shares many similarities with the characters he draws; edgy and vulnerable while Dreddishly unrepentant and bold. When asked for a sketch, he grabbed up his classic green Pentel and attacked my sketchbook like he was committing a homicide. Slash. Slash. Slash. And suddenly, there was Dredd threatening me from the page. Genius. The pic is at the head of this blog entry BTW.
So I asked him the question everyone's been asking for the last ten years, 'Where the Hell have you been for 10 years Mick?' 'Oh, I was around', he explained. 'I did all sorts of stuff. I just didn't do comics. But because that's what I'm best known for, everyone thought I'd vanished.' I put it to him that we need people like him to be more proactive in comics; we need innovators to fight against the generic computer-coloured slush that's become the comics mainstream. He shrugged and said, 'I just do what I do.'
It was typically modest of the man. And yet, for me, Mick is like the great fashion designers who turn out the weird, the wacky and the bizarre for the catwalks of New York, Paris, London and Milan. They look to push fashion forward by doing things that the rest of us haven't even thought of. And though some may scoff and point and ridicule, you can guarantee that watered-down versions of their outlandish new designs will be in the High Street the following year. So too with Mick McMahon. If it weren't for artists like him and Frank Miller and Brian Bolland and Mike Mignola and the late great Gil Kane and Jack Kirby, comics would all be as dull, uninspired and anodyne as the myriad reality shows that clog the arteries of our television schedules.
I want to see more Mick McMahon artwork. And I want it to be as dangerous and daring and completely bonkers as his previous stuff has been. I love Mick's artwork for the same reasons that I love listening to Bjork, Nine Horses, Radiohead, Jim Moray and Liquid Tension Experiment; for the same reasons that I watch Dexter, Charlie Jade, Ugly Betty, Jekyll, My Name is Earl, Chuck, Peep Show and The Mighty Boosh - They're all trying to break new ground. Some are more successful than others. But at least they're all trying.
Imagine a world where no one tries any more. It's a world of flaccid comics, unchallenging novels, impotent boy bands and 24 hour Big Brother.
Shoot me now.
Mick's Official Website
The Art of Mike McMahon Fan Site
More on the comics show in future bloggings.