By Marty Mulrooney
John Hicklenton was a cult British comics artist best known for his work on 2000 AD and Judge Dredd. He recently died aged 42 after suffering from Primary Progressive Multiple Sclerosis for 10 years. An award-winning film documenting his art and life entitled Here’s Johnny was shown on More4 in 2008. 100 Months is Hicklenton’s last complete work, which he worked on right up until his death at Dignitas in Zurich in March 2010.
Drawing on Prince Charles’s stark warning in 2009 that we only have ‘100 months’ to save the planet, Hicklenton depicts an apocalyptic world where Mara, daughter of Satan, sets out to kill a swine God named the Longpig, capitalism incarnate, whose followers look suspiciously like you and I…
This a brutal, relentlessly violent epic placing Mara as an antichrist intent on unleashing Armageddon. There are no panels: every page is an individual image, a window into a world that I would never wish to find myself in but couldn’t tear my eyes away from nonetheless.
The artistry on display here is truly breathtaking. Almost disturbingly beautiful, it is often difficult to look at such macabre imagery knowing it came from the mind and imagination of a dying man. What little writing there is appears to have been handwritten with great care, as if Hicklenton, much like Mara, is waging his own personal war.
Hicklenton’s close friend Pat Mills ‘the godfather of British comics’ introduces 100 Months, explaining that many British and American editors tried to ‘tame’ Johnny, and that he was “disappointed to discover that some readers actually prefer such insipid, dumbed-down comic muzak to wild, intoxicating visual extravaganzas.”
I wouldn’t go as far as Mr Mills, but I can certainly understand the vast gulf between the mainstream and what we are presented with here. My own tastes are admittedly more mainstream. I can appreciate 100 Months as art but I am unsure if its ambiguous narrative and violent imagery turns me on as much as it will others. I feel that the book could divide a lot of readers as a result, but then again I am reminded that controversial content and boundary-pushing such as this usually indicates a total disregard for criticism anyway.
Regardless, this is art and I am probably a hypocrite: I have already returned to 100 Months several times because it successfully showcases so much talent, packed full of qualities that I could never hope to quantify. Like any other work of art, the impact and meaning of this book will depend on the individual consumer. For that reason I have chosen not to include a final score, but implore readers who are intrigued by the images throughout my review to check out what will undoubtedly become Hicklenton’s masterpiece.
2000 AD writer Pat Mills, documentary film director Adam Lavis and graphic artist Clint Langley celebrate John Hicklenton’s life, career and crowning work, 100 Months.
Wednesday 17 November 7pm LONDON PRINT STUDIO, W10
Thursday 18 November 7.15 pm Waterstone’s, BRIGHTON
For fans of 2000AD and Judge Dredd, Brighton-based Graphic artist Johnny Hicklenton needs no introduction. He was one of Britain’s greatest comic book artists, famous for the brutal, visceral draughtsmanship he brought to his craft. Published on 18 November, 100 MONTHS is Johnny’s final graphic novel, a fantastically dark, apocalyptic fable, warning that we only have only 100 months left to save the planet. Johnny took his own life with the assistance of Dignitas in Switzerland on 19 March 2010 following a heroic ten-year struggle with Primary Progressive Multiple Sclerosis. This event celebrates his life and his uniquely dark and powerful vision, with fellow writer Pat Mills, graphic artist Clint Langley and Adam Lavis of Animal Monday, director of the film ‘Here’s Johnny’ winner of two Grierson awards for best documentary.
London Print Studio, 425 Harrow Road, W10 4RE
Nearest tube: Westbourne Park. FREE. Tickets available in advance telephone 0208 969 3247
Waterstone’s Brighton, 71-74 North Street, Brighton BN1 1ZA
Tickets on the door £2. Enquiries telephone 01273 206 017