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Sunday, 24 October 2010

John Hicklenton's '100 Months' Goes on Sale

100 Months, the final work of the late, great 2000AD artist John Hicklenton is now available from publisher Cutting Edge Press. Pat Mills describes it as "magnificent" and hints that despite John's passing earlier this year there is more work yet to be seen.

100 Months is John Hicklenton's final graphic novel, a parable of environmental devastation in which Mara, Warrior and Earth Goddess, seeks revenge against the Longpig: a satanic personification of capitalism, red in tooth and claw, whose followers, a legion of the damned, look quite a lot like... us.

John is best known for his work on 2000AD, Nemesis the Warlock and Heavy Metal Dredd was one of Britain’s leading comic book artists, famous for the brutal, visceral draughtsmanship he brought to the 2000 AD/Judge Dredd titles, transforming their cartoon dystopia into a circle of hell. His artwork was and remains uniquely disturbing and powerful, and often too much so for some comic book fans, and his career was dogged by requests that he 'tone it down'.

In writing and drawing 100 Months, John faced no such censorship, and gave free reign to a vision that is both starkly beautiful and apocalyptic. The world of the Longpig is rich in killing fields and scenes of mass crucifixion recalling Goya at his darkest.

The title, taken from HRH Prince Charles's warning that there were 100 months remaining to prevent cataclysmic climate change, reflects the urgency of both the book's prophetic voice, and the spirit and circumstances in which it was written.

"I was lucky enough to have Johnny Hicklenton draw my first published story, and I knew from the start that his was a unique and powerful vision," says Neil Gaiman. "100 Months is a heartbreaking final vision: one man going head to head with death, and with Death, and with life. I felt lucky to be allowed to read it and fortunate that Johnny made it for us before he left. It lingers and it haunts, and, ultimately, affirms."

John took his own life with the assistance of Dignitas in Zurich on the 19th March 2010, following a heroic struggle with Primary Progressive Multiple Sclerosis (His life, work and illness are the subject of the Animal Monday documentary Here's Johnny, which was broadcast on More4 and was the first film in history to win two Grierson awards). 100 Months was drawn and written in foreknowledge of his own imminent death, and its quality of intimate insight into universal themes of life, death and the planet's own survival seems at times to come from a place between worlds, to have been transmitted from the Hades, Western Lands or Sheol of the ancients to the 21st century as a cry of warning.

Despite Johns death, in a recent Facebook post, Pat Mills praises 100 Months, calling it "magnificent", and also hints that John left a lot of other unpublished work, including "artwork for a book with the title Bedlam," which he would love to see in print, too.

"You can imagine what that looks like!" he enthuses. Johnny lives on...

• More info: www.cuttingedgepress.co.uk/100months.html

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