Droid Icons: The (Mostly Unseen) Art Of Clint Langley
Having impressed with his fully-painted art on strips like Nemesis the Warlock, Slaine, and some superb cover work, the Langley droid’s star seemed set to soar..
But, apart from a one-off Sinister Dexter tale: F.A.Q (Prog1076,6Jan’98), the art droid did not appear again in the Galaxy’s Greatest Comic for four long years.
It was not until the new millenium that the Langley droid made his dramatic, triumphant return - and how!
Taking his art in a whole new dazzling digital direction, unlike anything we’d seen before, (Mark Harrison's Durham Red, had utilised some CG-art, but not to this extent) Langley's stunning style was a revelation.
Lending itself to dramatic cover art, initially this was where Langley's style created the most impact, but it wouldn't be long before the art droid would team up with his long-term script droid partner, Pat Mills to decide which of the Mills droid’s many creations would be best-suited to Langley's brand new dynamic, futuristic art style: Nemesis the Warlock perhaps - far-flung futures &tamp; far-out alien species; a multi-part Dredd epic maybe, or Flesh, with it’s mixture of dinosaurs and time-travelling space cowboys, could be cool; possibly even an original creation, designed especially to showcase this fresh, experimental style of Langley's..
What the creative team did next was probably what we least expected, they took the Langley droid’s visual trickery, and applied it to the one character in the comic whose entire world is firmly rooted in the past (or pasts, to be specific!) and instead of gleaming spires and sleek spacecraft, we were going to see his CG-style applied to the fantasy-driven, swords & sorcery epic of… Slaine?
To be honest I didn’t think this could work, and his art would’ve been totally better suited on another strip, but as usual the Mills (and Langley) droids were right, seeing Slaine with a recognisably human face,and the ferrety, rat-like Ukko, brought to life in such a realistic fashion, was a genuine eye-opener, and by Tharg the Mighty - it worked. Of course it did, this is Pat Mills we’re talking about, and obviously the Langley droid did have previous experience on Slaine, as well as drawing awesome monsters!
But before we dive into Clint Langley's frankly spectacular work on Slaine…and later work…we thought it would be cool to look at some of his earliest digital cover work, and some of his lesser known pieces..
So sit back and marvel at the genius of an art droid at the top of his game..
.One of Langley’s first digital covers: (Prog 1332,19Mar’03) - Caballistics Inc., Hammer Horror movie-style poster
More marvellous Caballistics Inc, feat. Hannah Chapter (Prog1363,22Oct’03)
Leatherjack (Prog1456,14Sep’05)- scripted from the twisted imagination of the John Smith droid (Indigo Prime,Cradlegrave), this is a tale of,an assassin tasked with saving a book containing all human consciousness, in danger of being destroyed along with a library world in a galactic war, against a cult of Mary Whitehouse-types, determined to censor everything, known as the Spinster Empire
.An early Judge Death with a ‘guilty’ ssinnerr! - his 'crime' was life, and there could only be one sentence….
Langley gets to work with one of his heroes, and major influences, the late,uniquely great maverick art droid, John Hickleton(died with dignity ~ 2010). What a shame that Hicklenton and Langley never did more collaborations, their art was a perfect match, would’ve been brilliant for any of the Prog’s darker series. Anyway,they did manage a couple of fantastic Judge Dredd covers and such though. This is one of our favourites: pencil & colours from the Langley droid, beautifully inked by the master of mayhem, art droid, John Hicklenton (R.I.P, sir!).
Shakara Rises! Stunning Shakara cover art - Prog 1715.
Dredd looks grim-faced (nothing new there, then!), as the tragic events of Chaos Day begin to unfold, in what will be the worst ever catastrophe to hit Mega-City One, killing over 3/4 of the population - a massive 350 million citizens - grim news, indeed, believably portrayed by the Langley droid on this cover - Prog 1743 (20Jul’11)
Unused cover art - Prog 1858 - art for Gorehead, the terrifying T-Rex from Flesh: Texas& Badlanders (Progs1850-61)
Special US promotional art for the Mills & Langley droid’s most recent collaboration, the darkly divine, American Reaper, which brings a whole new meaning to identity theft! Published originally in the Judge Dredd Megazine (Meg337,18Jul’13)
Some truly jaw-dropping art from the Langley droid, but it was on Slaine and another much-loved strip where he would really blow our Thrill-circuits…!
-CHICAGO BEARS- WR Josh Bellamy C Taylor Boggs OT Eben Britton DT Brandon Dunn WR Armanti Edwards LB Jerry Franklin G Ryan Groy CB Kelvin Hayden S M.D. Jennings DE Austen Lane LB DeDe Lattimore CB Al Louis-Jean RB Jordan Lynch TE Jeron Mastrud WR Dale Moss DT Lee Pegues DT Tracy Robertson OL Dennis Roland S Marcus Trice OL Robert Turner WR Chris Williams CB C.J. Wilson
-DETROIT LIONS- FB Chad Abram LB Shamari Benton P Drew Butler WR Kris Durham RB Michael Egnew QB James Franklin CB Jonte Green CB Chris Greenwood CB Aaron Hester OL Darren Keyton CB Nate Ness OL Garrett Reynolds CB Mohammed Seisay DE Darryl Tapp K Giorgio Tavecchio OL Michael Williams RB George Winn
-GREEN BAY PACKERS- S Chris Banjo WR Kevin Dorsey LB Jake Doughty OL John Fullington OL Garth Gerhart WR Alex Gillett DT Carlos Gray RB Michael Hill LB Adrian Hubbard OL Jordan McCray S Tanner Miller TE Justin Perillo RB LaDarius Perkins DE Luther Robinson CB Jumal Rolle OL Jeremy Vujnovich WR Myles White CB Ryan White
-MINNESOTA VIKINGS- OL Jeff Baca DT Chase Baker RB Joe Banyard S Kurt Coleman WR Kain Colter S Chris Crocker DT Fred Evans DT Isame Faciane TE Chase Ford WR Donte Foster LB Justin Jackson CB Kendall James OL Zac Kerin CB Julian Posey TE Allen Reisner OL Mike Remmers DE Justin Trattou RB Dominique Williams LB Mike Zimmer
This photograph was found in the black attorney’s papers, Floyd McKissick. The actual date of the photograph is unknown, but it was found in a folder with other photographs from McKissick’s work with the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People and its Youth Chapter in Durham, North Carolina in the early 1960s. The individuals pictured in the photograph are also unknown.
Pictured are two African American males holding signs in front of a self service A&P Super Market. The signs say: “DO NOT BUY WHERE YOU WILL NOT BE HIRED” with a small “NAACP” in the bottom right corner. African Americans in Durham who participated in such civil rights groups often used sit-ins and boycotts to protest segregation and other unfair practices towards racial minorities. These two men in the photograph were boycotting this A&P Super Market because they were not allowed to be hired for employment due to their skin color. In order to discourage other African Americans from giving their money and business to a place that would not hire these black men, they stood out in front of the store with signs to let other blacks know of their injustices.
[carryalaser asks:Was wondering (sorry if it’s been dealt with before) if you had favourite/recommended works of fantasy/historical fiction in regards to positive PoC representation? And thank you a lot for the effort put into this blog, one of the finest. My mother wishes it was around when she was homeschooling my sisters and I.]
OMG, Thank you!!! And your mom sounds awesome.
I’m a pretty hardcore Fantasy/Sci Fi fan and have been since childhood. The unrelenting whiteness of the genre (especially the late 70’s early 80’s stuff I was practically weaned on) really did a number on me, especially as a teen. That’s a lot of why this blog exists, in fact.
The Crown of Stars Series by Kate Elliott
A must for medieval fans! I love the series for the awesome character development, realistic worldbuilding, and instead of “medieval England” going on and on through the entire map, you end up in versions of Hungary, Eurasia, Mesoamerica, Ethiopia and Egypt. Not only that, here’s your protagonist:
For those who are more into Steampunk and Historical Fiction (not me, in other words), I actually DO recommend another Elliott series:
The Spiritwalker Trilogy by Kate Elliott (Cold Magic, Cold Fire, Cold Steel)
The Inheritance Trilogy by N. K. Jemisin (The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms, The Broken Kingdoms, The Kingdom of Gods)
OMG. YOU NEED THIS.
Seriously if you pick one, pick THIS one. Characters you never knew you couldn’t live without include Oree Shoth, Sieh, Yeine, Nahadoth, and many, many more. Description:
Gods and mortals. Power and love. Death and revenge. In the Hundred Thousand Kingdoms, gods dwell among mortals and one powerful, corrupt family rules the earth. Three extraordinary people may be the key to humanity’s salvation.
Dreamblood (The Killing Moon, The Shadowed Sun) by N. K. Jemisin
YOUR MIND WILL BE BLOWN OKAY.
Magic system is really unique, and the characters will feel like your new, weird, difficult best friends who have hero complexes and martyr complexes and so much political intrigue and so much EVERYTHING.
Acacia Trilogy by David Anthony Durham (Acacia, Other Lands, The Sacred Band)
This is a person with a background in Historical Fiction, so to MY taste, it starts a little dry but is meaty and totally worth it. The plot and the politics and the geography are really going to appeal to Historical Fiction buffs. The whole plots hinges around moral quandaries involving power, colonization, slavery, and drugs.
Also, the characters are pretty good. More plot driven than character driven.
The Elemental Logic Series (Fire Logic, Earth Logic, Water Logic, forthcoming Air Logic) by Laurie J. Marks
AMAZING High Fantasy fare. These books read like a good meal. I don’t even have words for it, just….you’ll feel what the characters feel when they’re tested to the breaking point and beyond. You’ll love who they love, and need what they need. GLORIOUS DESTINIES tempered by incredible grittiness, and villains you will hate so much it’ll feel like a toothache. One of my very favorites. (NOTE: The cover of Fire Logic is whitewashed. Zanja is a woman of COLOR. I will post the cover of Earth Logic instead.)
Looking at the most visible exemplars of epic fantasy — from J.R.R. Tolkien to such bestselling authors as George R.R. Martin and Robert Jordan — a casual observer might assume that big, continent-spanning sagas with magic in them are always set in some imaginary variation on Medieval Britain. There may be swords and talismans of power and wizards and the occasional dragon, but there often aren’t any black- or brown-skinned people, and those who do appear are decidedly peripheral; in “The Lord of the Rings,” they all seem to work for the bad guys.
Our hypothetical casual observer might therefore also conclude that epic fantasy — one of today’s most popular genres — would hold little interest for African-American readers and even less for African-American writers. But that observer would be dead wrong. One of the most celebrated new voices in epic fantasy is N.K. Jemisin, whose debut novel, “The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms,” won the Locus Award for best first novel and nominations for seemingly every other speculative fiction prize under the sun. Another is David Anthony Durham, whose Acacia Trilogy has landed on countless best-of lists. Both authors recently published the concluding books in their trilogies.
Although they came to the genre from different paths, both Jemisin and Durham have used it to wrench historical and cultural themes out of their familiar settings and hold them up in a different light. “I never felt that fantasy needed to be an escape from reality,” Durham told me. “I wanted it to be a different sort of engagement with reality, and one that benefits from having magic and mayhem in it as well.”
In Durham’s trilogy, four royal siblings are deposed and then fight their way back to the throne in an empire presided over by the island city of Acacia. Their dynasty’s power resides in a Faustian bargain made with a league of maritime merchants: the League supplies a rabble-soothing drug in exchange for a quota of the empire’s children, who are sent off across the sea to meet an unknown fate. As promised, “Acacia” is a sweeping yarn filled with adventure, intrigue, sorcery and battles.
Jemisin’s series, too, is set in the capital of an empire that has been run by an aristocratic clan for generations. The power of the Arameri family, however, resides in the gods — specifically a pantheon of deities whom they have imprisoned and enslaved. The narrator of “The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms” is the daughter of a renegade member of the clan who ran off with a foreigner. Raised in a remote kingdom with its own fiercely independent customs, she returns to the capital seeking information about her mother and, once there, becomes embroiled in vicious palace intrigues.
She made the main character a woman and, in an even more marked departure from the norm, she decided to have that character narrate the book in the first person. “I knew that what I was writing was inherently defiant of the tropes of epic fantasy,” Jemisin said, “and I wasn’t sure it would be accepted.”
When Durham decided to write an epic fantasy, he set out to recapture the enchantment he felt as a 12-year-old, discovering Tolkien at his father’s house in Trinidad, while “brushfires and buzzards” ranged over the neighboring hills. Jemisin, on the other hand, based her trilogy on “the old-school epics: not Tolkien, but Gilgamesh.” The gods in her imaginary world evoke the squabbling divine families of the world’s great myths: “The ancient tales of mortals putting up with gods and trying to outsmart gods, of trickster gods outsmarting other gods: That’s the basis of my work.”
“The genre can go many, many more places than it has gone,” said Jemisin. “Fantasy’s job is kind of to look back, just as science fiction’s job is to look forward. But fantasy doesn’t always just have to look back to one spot, or to one time. There’s so much rich, fascinating, interesting, really cool history that we haven’t touched in the genre: countries whose mythology is elaborate and fascinating, cultures whose stories we just haven’t even tried to retell.”