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Friday, August 30, 2019

Nigel Dobbyn (1963-2019)


News has circulated in the last few hours of the death of Nigel Dobbyn, best known for his work on 2000AD, Sonic the Comic and The Beano, at the age of 56. He had posted on Facebook as recently as 15 August and was apparently feeling happy and well, only to suffer a sudden heart attack on Saturday, 24 August.

Dobbyn was a regular at 2000AD for eight years, contributing to 'Tharg's Future Shocks' (1988) before embarking on his first serial, 'Medivac 318' by Hilary Robinson (1989-90). Carrying the news of his death, the 2000AD website noted:
The series ... showcased Dobbyn’s unmistakeable style, his strong storytelling and clear lines giving all of his work a solidity and openness that was often at odds with the prevailing fashions in comic art at the time.
    His colour work was bold and striking but also grounded and earthy – his work on future eco-cop series Trash (Progs 760 to 770), written by Paul Kupperberg, contrasted the greys of urban decay with lush greens and bright flower colours. He also had a skill for action and his work on Red Razors with Mark Millar and Garth Ennis’ Strontium Dogs stories featuring Johnny Alpha and Wulf Sternhammer’s furry sidekick Gronk, as well as Peter Hogan’s spell on the strip, demonstrated his ability to draw convincing, involved and energetic action scenes.
Born in Oxford on 9 March 1963, Dobbyn grew up reading the comics of his elder brother, Jeremy, before he and his friend Aidan Potts, also now an author and illustrator, discovered Marvel comics while at primary school.

Dobbyn was educated at Magdelen College School, Oxford, before earning an engineering degree at Lanchester Polytechnic, Coventry (1981-84). After contributing to Killing Stroke and 'Three Way Split' to Harrier's Avalon in 1987, he began freelancing in 1988, contributing his first Future Shock to 2000AD Prog 588 (20 August 1988), written by Steve Dillon.

After 'Medivac 318' concluded, Dobbyn joined Paul Kupperberg on the story of eco-policeman, Trashman Trask, Trash (1991-92), and first worked with Paul Hogan on a short 'Tharg's Dragon Tales' serial, in 1992. He took over the artistic chores for Strontium Dog (1993-95), written by Garth Ennis and, later, Peter Hogan. Ennis' run included such fan favourites as 'Return of the Gronk' and 'The Darkest Star'. Dobbyn also took on Mark Millar's 'Red Razors' (1994-95), but a change in editorship brought his run on the title to an end.

Dobbyn also contributed to Deadline and Mindbenders, and his work on 2000AD led to some work for DC Comics, including three issues of Judge Dredd: Legends of the Law and an issue of The Demon.

After a brief period of commercial work for Eagle Star and Polydor Records (comic strips for boy band Ultimate Kaos), Dobbyn found work on Sonic the Comic, edited by former Tharg Richard Burton, making his debut in October 1995 and supplying a regular stream of stories about the super-speedy hedgehog until 1999, often working from scripts by Nigel Kitching and Lew Stringer. He was one of the most popular artists in the comic, contributing heavily to the stories of Knuckles, the red-furred Echidna, and, later, Tails and Amy Rose.

Dobbyn was a notable colourist for artists Roberto Corona, Richard Elson and Carl Flint, and later said, in a 2010 interview, "My favourite work of all was colouring the linework of Roberto Corona, which was more of a pleasure than I could reasonably expect from a paying job. I’m still very proud of the work we produced together and it was a privilege to work with him."

After Sonic, Dobbyn struggled for some while, working briefly on Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles for the BBC's FBX magazine (1999), and in a food factory for several months before being offered work on Dark Horse's Digimon (2000). Although it proved short-lived, it led to work on Panini's UK Digimon comic and a great many other licensed characters, including Panini's Spiderman & Friends, Eaglemoss' Gogos Crazy Bones, Power Rangers for Panini's Fox Kids Wickid, and illustrations for various DeAgostini titles, including Mr. Bean's Amazing A-Z, My Little Pony and Angelina's Fairy Tales and Scooby Doo.

He has also worked on various educational books, illustrations for councils and wildlife trusts, the fanzines Dogbreath and Zarjaz, a strip for Games Workshop's Inferno, and colouring The Chili for Markosia.

Dobbyn also found work drawing (and sometimes writing) 'Billy the Cat' in The Beano (2005) and various Beano Annual, adapting Shakespeare's Macbeth (2008) and The Tempest (2009) for Classical Comics, and adapting Anthony Horowitz's Nightrise (2014). He also drew 'The Adventures of Naut' for Cybernaut Records of Perth, three titles inspired by H.P. Lovecraft for Arcturus, and 'Goblin Princess' for Redan's Sparkle World.

In 2016 he returned to 2000AD to draw 'Ace Trucking Co.' and had most recently been working on the multimedia project Death Ingloria by Galina Rin and Hilary Robinson (2017), lettering for the digital comic Aces Weekly, and contributing '28AR' by Richmond Clements to Brawler, a kickstarter project from Time Bomb Comics.

Dobbyn lived in Guisborough, Yorkshire, and is survived by his wife, Susan, and daughter, Megan.

Tributes to Nigel can be found at Lew Stringer's blog and John Freeman's Down the Tubes.

1 comment:

  1. Wonderful and comprehensive tribute to a lovely man. Thank you.

    ReplyDelete