It is with great sadness that we must say goodbye to another contributor to OiNK. The news just came out yesterday that renowned 2000AD artist Kevin O’Neill passed away at the age of 69 after a period of illness. Kevin’s most famous work was definitely the likes of Nemesis the Warlock, Marshal Law and of course League of Extraordinary Gentlemen. I was a huge fan of Nemesis but my first encounter with his unique style was in the pages of OiNK. Below is what I said about Kevin and his work in the OiNK Holiday Special earlier this year.
“Now, let’s move on to what would surely be the main event for many comics fans. At the time I was unaware of who Kevin O’Neill was but today I know the man as something of a legend in the industry. Drawing the image of Tharg on the cover of the very first 2000AD he would go on to produce incredible work for OiNK’s stablemate, most memorably for me the stunning Nemesis the Warlock. In 1986 his whole style proved unsuitable for the American Comics Code Authority but thankfully DC went ahead and published his Tales of the Green Lantern anyway. Later, he would co-create Marshal Law and team up with Alan Moore for The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen. For OiNK’s Holiday Special he drew a four-page parody called The Game is Greed, written by Mark Rodgers.
“Lew Stringer was friends with both Kevin and Dave Gibbons, another legendary comic artist who’d appear in the pages of OiNK. They’d meet up frequently at London comic marts and when Lew found out Kevin was a fan of OiNK he asked him if he’d like to contribute. His first strip was actually a collaboration with Lew called The Truth About Santa for The OiNK Book 1988, then later he drew this brilliant script by Mark, but deadlines for specials and annuals being what they are this was the one that saw print first. I may not have known who he was but I adored the very unique art style and I can remember lying in bed late at night (having already read the comic that morning) pouring over all of the funny details for a long time. I’d never seen anything like this.
“Kevin’s sharp lines, exaggerated action and gorgeous colours really pop, making the strip stand out in even the quickest of skims through the issue. This is no small feat for an issue of OiNK.”
Later, when I began reading issues of 2000AD that belonged to school friends it was Kevin’s Nemesis that really stood out to me. Those strips still do and they’d be my go-to strips when I wanted to dip my toes into a little 2000AD, simply because of the art. As the obituary on 2000AD’s website says, “His death is a monumental loss for comics.”
Lew Stringer has written a piece about the sad passing of his friend on his own blog.
Kevin’s pals at Gosh Comics in London have also paid tribute in their own post.
An incredible talent, taken far too soon. Our thoughts are with his loved ones.