Sad news reaches us here at SFcrowsnest Towers that Kevin O’Neill, 2000AD comic-book artist extraordinaire, has passed away aged 69. Among his many works, his collaborations on 2000AD‘s Nemesis the Warlock, Marshal Law (with writer Pat Mills), and The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen (with Alan Moore) brought Kevin the most fame.
By the time he was 16, Kevin was working as an office boy for IPC’s children’s comedy book Buster. He began his career as a colorist in 1976, working on copies of Disney comics and British children’s comics like Monster Fun and Whizzer and Chips. When he learned that IPC was working on a new science fiction comic-book, he begged to be moved to Pat Mills’ new title, 2000 AD, instead of continuing to work on children’s humour publications.
In addition to helping him become a significant 2000AD creative, Kevin’s eccentric and outlandish work on Ro-Busters also paved the way for what would turn out to be a protracted string of collaborations with author Pat Mills.
The next significant piece by Mills and Kevin was a stand-alone tale titled Terror Tube in issue 167, which was allegedly influenced by The Jam‘s song Going Underground. However, the narrative was a response to IPC complaining to a lengthy chase scene in Ro-Busters. As a result, the duo came up with a six-page story that was solely comprised of a lengthy chase sequence between the armies of the evil Torquemada and a mystery figure named Nemesis.
For Epic Comics, Mills and Kevin produced a six-issue miniseries titled Marshal Law that would be their take on superheroes. Although the series did well in terms of sales, Epic received a number of complaints regarding the artwork, which led Mills and Kevin to change the characters in the Marshal Law Takes Manhattan one-shot from the well-known Marvel Comics characters because they intended to use clones of heroes like Captain America, Spider-Man, and The Punisher who were only barely disguised.
The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, a six issue series by Kevin and Alan Moore for America’s Best Comics, was published in 1999. This brought together many literary figures from the Victorian period, including Dr. Jekyll, Allan Quatermain, and Captain Nemo. The book had great success. The four-volume series includes an original graphic novel and a trilogy of spin-off graphic novellas.
In Kevin’s time, he picked up 3 Harvey Awards, 2 Eisner Awards, an Eagle Award, and a Bram Stoker Award. Nice.
To butcher the words of Torquemada, “Be pure! Be vigilant! Be sad!”, for we shall see no more brilliant new art works from the super-talented Kevin O’Neill.
Thanks to everyone for their kind thoughts about Kevin’s brilliance, and the huge difference he made to British comics. We’ve lost a superstar.
— Pat Mills (@PatMillsComics) November 7, 2022
Here’s the definitive two-part interview with Kevin O’Neill to remember him by.