Monday, July 24, 2006

Colin Wilson: Genius at work


Colin Wilson is a true rarity, a comics artist who's work has been acclaimed in America, Britain and most especially in Europe. What makes that achievement even more impressive is the fact Wilson hails from New Zealand, a nation too small to sustain a comics industry. He now resides in Australia and drew the stunning illustration above to accompany a career retrospective interview in Australian comics fanzine Word Balloons [order your copy here].

Growing up in New Zealand, I used to read a lot of imported comics. Mostly they were Marvels from America, probably because they were full colour. At the time, DC Comics were being reprinted by an Australian outfit called Planet Comics in glorious monochrome, which never quite tickled my fancy so much. I did pick up the occasional issue of 2000 AD as well, little realising how much of my working life would become associated with it in the future. But in the late 70s something astounding happened - a full colour comic was published in New Zealand!

Captain Sunshine was apparently created as a promotional tie-in to a new solar-powered watch. I couldn't have cared less about that, all I wanted was more Captain Sunshine. At last, a Kiwi comic and in colour, too. I bought the first issue [the only published issue, it proved to be] from a corner shop in Auckland's Blockhouse Bay suburb. I was captivated - if only I'd had the sense to hang on to my copy. [What I wouldn't give to get a copy again!] Little did I realise Captain Sunshine was drawn by Colin Wilson, nor that I'd end up employing him on 2000 AD 20 years later. [The credit for that goes to Andy Diggle, who sought Colin out and persuaded him into working for the comic again after a 17-year hiatus. Clever bloke, that Diggle.]

About the same time as Captain Sunshine appeared in my life, my elder brother Phil was heavily into Toy Love. Toy Love was an anarchic, post-punk Kiwi band fronted by career iconoclast and comics buff Chris Knox. I never got to see Toy Love in concert, but I loved their first [and only] album, nearly wearing a hole through my brother's vinyl copy of it. Recently that album was re-released on double CD, with 16 previously unreleased tracks and all manner of madness. The cover is a remastered piece of artwork originally created for a Toy Love poster by a young New Zealand artist of the time. His name: Colin Wilson, of course. Strange how life leads you around in these friendly circles sometimes, isn't it? You can find out more about Colin and his work by going here.

[Thanks to Mark's bad librarianship blog for the heads-up on this!]

UPDATE - SEPTEMBER 2009: Just had an email from artist Mark Harrison, correcting my faulty memory on how Pulp Sci-Fi got started and Colin Wilson's return to 2000AD> Mark writes...
The way I remember it I pitched the idea of Pulp Sci-fi to you in a hotel room at a comics con and that it would be a great way to get old 2000 AD talent back into the comic that couldn't commit to a full story to do little these little strips and I reeled of a list of names INCLUDING Colin Wilson (who i repeatedly asked Andy to get hold of and mentioned this to Colin when I did the cover for his Pulp Sci-fi strip) and have gone on record as saying the best thing that came out of Pulp Sc-fi WAS getting Colin Wilson back into the fold.

Andy might have done the leg work but I gave him the idea, so clever... hmmm? Resourceful yes. And attentive to artists.

8 comments:

jock said...

nice to see THE LOSERS in the background of that first pic david... it was great to have colin work on our series - i used to copy his DREDD art when i was a teenager!!

Penelopecat said...

I was living with my family in New Zealand at the time, and I bought Captain Sunshine as well. (My recollection was that it was tied in with a sundial watch, which seems really odd now, but at the age of nine or ten, I thought it was really cool to have the same watch Captain Sunshine did.) I doubt the comic is still lurking around my parent's house, but I know I did find it again a number of years later.

I also remember hearing about the comic first on kids news magazine show. Spot On, maybe? Not that often you get comics news from TV.

And, of course, he's doing a great job on the new Battler Britton miniseries.

Paul Scoones said...

I had the Captain Sunshine comic and watch too! It must have come out around December as it was a Christmas present from my parents. The watch was a sundial, and the gnomon (the angled bit that sticks up in the middle) could be raised up to tell the time or lowered to sit flush in the face of the watch. The watch was made of pale blue plastic. Unfortunately I lost it while camping at the beach just days after I received it. Man, was I upset!

Anonymous said...

Jeez, its like I've just died, or something......

colin

jock said...

you're still alive????

jarvis pinto said...

I'm trying to get intouch with COlin Wilson, so does anyone know if he has like an e-mail or something.
if anyone can help
contact me on jar-vito@hotmail.com

David Bishop said...

Colin's blog is to be found here:

http://wilco4400.blogspot.com/

And this is his website:

http://members.optushome.com.au/jacoco/

Darren Schroeder said...

I'll swap you a copy of Captain Sunshine for a copy of Thrill-Power Overload. I'm in the UK so get in touch if that sounds fair.