Death of Valiant by David McDonald

One Eyed Jack and The Death of Valiant

Published by Hibernia
November 2012

Written by David McDonald
Edited by Mike Donachie
Layout by Richard Pearce and Dave Evans

Contents:

The Death of Valiant
The last year of the classic comic
From Red to Dredd
An interview with John Cooper
Wagner’s Heroes
An interview with John Wagner
One-Eyed Jack
The origin of Judge Dredd
Art Attack
A look at the hidden works of the Art Director

The first part of the book is a discussion regarding the last year of Valiant which looks at how John Wagner attempted to rescue the flagging title. David sets the scene, the 70s hit reading hard with the proliferation of TV sets. Readership dwindled and something was needed to retain those that remained if not recruit new readers.

Wagner and Pat Mills had successfully turned round the Girls comics for IPC and created Battle for the Boys’ department. So, an obvious choice for the management at IPC to put in charge of the failing comic.

David looks at the talent that was utilised and discusses the obstacles including mergers with other titles, something that isn’t unfamiliar for 2000AD fans.

The interview with John Cooper, a comics artist, covers several topics but with a bias towards One-Eyed Jack. The diversity of the topics is very interesting and the voice of the artist comes through well.

The interview of John Wagner deals mostly with the Valiant years but as one might expect leads from One-Eyed Jack to Judge Dredd. John is known for brevity, David managed to get some quite lengthy responses in this interview. Again the voice of John Wagner comes over well.

One-Eyed Jack is so obviously based on Clint Eastwood that the character even slightly resembles the actor, the New York Detective was created by John Wagner and drawn by John Cooper. The article about him deals with his creation, the themes of the story and obviously the similarities with Dredd. Readers of 2000AD, many may not have read Valiant, were often vocal that Eastwood should portray Dredd if there were a film.

The final feature deals with Art Directors or Art Editors and comes in two parts. The first discusses the work Jan Shepheard did on Valiant as well as 2000AD. The second is an interview with Kevin O’Neill, most of this section is in Kevin’s voice.

The whole volume shows David’s in-depth knowledge of the subject matter. A very interesting read. Visually pleasing too with many full pages from Valiant along with covers and excerpts from other comics. In the Art Attack feature there is a nice selection of story logos to show one of the main tasks we see from Art Editors.

Very enjoyable and a great look back into the history of some influential UK comics.

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