28 August 2012

The Last American by Mike McMahon (and others)

Wikipedia informs us that "The Last American is a four-issue comic book mini-series released by Marvel's Epic imprint in 1990. It was written by John Wagner and Alan Grant with art by Mike McMahon." Which is true, but there is more to it than that for me.

I came across the art of Mike McMahon in 2000AD where he was the artist that made A.B.C. Warriors my favourite story. John Wagner and Alan Grant were there too on stories like Judge Dredd.

The transfer of British talent to American comics has always been erratic and I was delighted when Marvel gave some of 2000AD's greats a chance. The reaction to The Last American suggests that this was a chance that they did not take but I blame the other readers as I loved the book.

I bought it in its four parts when it first came out and it is now safely filed away in my study and I am sure that I could find it within a day or two of looking.

Then David Gibbons, another 2000AD hero, tweeted that the collected edition was available digitally for a measly £2.99. In a few minutes it was purchased and nicely ensconced on my iPad.

The opportunity to read it came just a couple of days later on the train ride back to Richmond from Newport. I loved it again.

The art work is why I bought and lived it the first time and that was true again twenty two years later. McMahon's style is angular and brutal, and that's a compliment. It is easy to say, and see, that this suits machinery very well but I love his figures and landscapes just as much.

The page construction is dramatic too. The panels are traditional boxes, this was 1990 after all, and the drama comes from the different perspective in each panel. In this typical page we have a mix of close-ups (from different angles) and two middle-range shots one looking down and the other looking up.

It is serial storytelling that forces you to stop and look at every picture and rewards you for doing so. This is why I read comics.

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