Hey, you know who’s a seriously underrated artist? Matt “D’Israeli” Brooker. Let’s take some time to embarrass this mild-mannered Englishman with the type of fulsome praise the British, as a nation, handle so badly. The folks at 2000AD have sent along a video profile of the man (below), revealing an artist of rare intelligence and dry wit. He’s also one of the few artists I’ve seen taking full advantage of the freelancer lifestyle — you’ll see what I mean after watching the clip.
Few artists emerge with a fully developed style of their own, but D’Israeli certainly did, and I think if you showed someone unfamiliar with his work a page of his earliest strips — a “Timulo” from Deadline in 1989 or a Lazarus Churchyard from 1991 — and then presented them with a more recent page, from 2000AD‘s “Lowlife” or “Leviathan,” or from the amazing “XTNCT,” they would recognize it all as being produced by the same hand. Brooker may have constantly evolved and refined his line to its current slickness, but there’s an easily spotted commonality, an essential D’Israeli-ness, to it all. It’s hard to think of many of Brooker’s peers that you could say the same for.
Brooker is an artist who takes a very cerebral approach to his work, refining his style for each assignment. His latest assignment has been the strip “Stickleback” for 2000AD with his regular collaborator Ian Edginton, and the work he’s producing is wholly singular. It’s largely chiaroscuro, but like none we’ve ever seen before in comics, created all-digitally, with painterly grayscale washes and textures.
Brooker is also one of those artists who’s always been very articulate and very interesting when talking about his chosen craft. His blog is full of lessons on all aspects of comic art, from maintaining pens to color theory to free downloads of custom Photoshop brushes and Manga Studio page layouts. Every entry is prone to becoming lengthy digressions about his technique. He recently created a video tutorial on how he digitally creates “Stickleback,” for Pete Wells’ 2000AD Covers Uncovered.
Brooker has also been using his blog to give detailed breakdowns of the assorted Wold Newton-esque references in ‘Stickleback’: let’s give a little golf clap here to Edginton and Brooker for never cudgeling the reader over the head with them to the point of sensory overload, the way Alan Moore and Kevin O’Neill have been doing in recent League of Extraordinary Gentlemen excursions. Bravo, gentlemen. As they say in France, good taste is its own reward.