Tuesday, 29 September 2015

Legend Horror Classics

Back in 1975, I was an 8 year old horror-freak with a penchant for posters. 
Imagine then my delight when I discovered "Legend Horror Classics", not only were there lurid posters featuring Hammer Horror monsters but they were also filled with the gruesome and gory comic strips of a certain young artist by the name of Kev O'Neill.

I'm not sure of the circumstances that led to this 22 year old being given the editorial freedom to publish his own twisted takes on classic tales such as Dracula & Frankenstein, but for a glorious 9 issues he was given, apparently, free rein to create a series of lurid masterpieces that warped my young mind and set me firmly on a path that I still tread.

Full cover gallery here

A couple of years later when 2000AD hit the stands I was already a big fan of his work and recognised his input instantly. O'Neill's art style was so well developed by that time that it is hard to name his artistic influences but looking back at "Legend Horror Classics" with the benefit of hindsight (and the assistance of UK comics legends Savage Pencil & Garry Leach at a recent Satanic Mojo Comix signing) we spotted a slew of potential visual references to Wally Wood/EC Comics, Jim Steranko, Will Eisner, Leo Baxendale, Ken Reid, Mike Ploog & more...

Atomic, Savage Pencil, Garry Leach & Billy Chainsaw peruse the Legend Horror Classics mags at the Satanic Mojo Comix #3 signing at Orbital Comics.

Issue 1, featured Kev's unique take on Dracula.
 One of O'Neill's first published works features Mina Murray & her 'foreign gentleman'. Mina is a character he still draws 40 years later in Legion Of Extraordinary Gentlemen with Alan Moore.

(note use of choker/scarf to cover vampire bites)

Spot colour is used for added drama, giving this series a bold pop-art edge.

Read the whole issue here

Issue 2, Frankenstein.

Read The whole issue here

Issue 3, The Golden Voyage Of Sinbad 


These torn fragments are all that remain of my original childhood collection of 
"Legend Horror Classics"

This strip is notable for O'Neill's uncharacteristic use of photo-reference.


Read The Whole issue here

Issue 4, Blood Lust Of The Zombies

These 1970s car crash scenes give this strip a very Ballardian edge.

Read The whole issue (+ issue 5) here

Issue 5, Dracula Must Be Destroyed

In panel 3 we see the thorny motif that will become one of O'Neill's trademarks a few years later on Nemesis The Warlock for 2000AD.

Issue 6, Terror From Space

A character looking like one of Frank Hampson's Treen emerges from a Kirby style cocoon and mutates into something resembling Bernie Wrightson's Swamp Thing.

Issue 7, Beowulf

Kev takes a break in this issue handing over the art chores to Derek Tyson.
Read the whole issue here

Issue 8, Killer Jaws

I don't have this issue, but apparently it acted as a prototype for the following year's notorious Hookjaw strip in Action.

Issue 9, The Jokers

According to Dez Skinn this EC comics tribute was reprinted from his Fantasy Advertiser zine.

Out of all the gory splendours of Legend Horror Classics this was the one that had the biggest impression on me. I think my guts really did churn... 
"Good Lord... Choke!"

To round things off here are some misc. editorial illustrations.

Around this time Kev also did the cover for this Dr Who poster mag.