Mighty congratulations to 2000 AD artist Simon Davis, who's won second prize in the world's most prestigious portrait competition, the BP Portrait Award. The winners were announced last night in London, with Simon getting eight thousand pounds in prize money for his piece, Amanda Smith at Vincent Avenue. Nearly 1,750 artists from around the world submitted to the competition, with 55 works [including Simon's] now on show in the National Portrait Gallery.
Simon's become a noted portrait artist in recent times, but has been working on comics like iconic British weekly 2000 AD for fifteen years. I think I might have given him his first sequential storytelling work, back when I was editor of the Judge Dredd Megazine. If memory serves, Simon approached me for work. Like a lot of artists in the early 90s, he was great at painting but needed to develop his storytelling. Still, there was definitely something there.
I gave him a one-off to illustrate, part of the Plagues of Necropolis series designed to offer newcomers an opening. Simon seized his chance and was soon drawing episodes of warped future western Missionary Man for the Meg. But he blossomed when given the job of illustrating the bullet-riddled adventures of hitmen Sinister Dexter, becoming the definitive artist for the long-running series.
His superheroic version of Tony Blair in B.L.A.I.R. 1 got splashed across the news in 1997, much as the recent appearance of Gordon Brown in Captain Britain made all the papers. Simon's illustrated hundreds, perhaps thousands, of story pages for 2000 AD over the past 15 years. He's among the last of a dying breed, an artist who still uses paints to tell comic strip stories, but class endures. I couldn't be more pleased he'd getting wider recognition at last.