If you’re near Liverpool between now and February 2018 then make sure you get to see the ‘Beyond Dredd: The Art of John Higgins‘ exhibition at Victoria Gallery & Museum.
It’s a fantastic exhibition of original comic book artwork by Liverpool-born John Higgins, best known for his work on Judge Dredd for 2000AD as well as his colouring for global hits like Alan Moore’s Watchmen and Batman: The Killing Joke. I worked with John when he drew a story of ours entitled ‘STORM’, for an issue of Legends of the Dark Knight written by myself and Graham S Brand for DC Comics.
Beyond Dredd: The Art of John Higgins is probably the largest comics exhibition I’ve seen devoted to just one talent. The art is arranged with loving care and great use is made of space and lighting in the galleries to add to the display. Having been mates with John for more than half my life, it was a great pleasure to walk round the exhibition and see his artwork getting the attention and respect it deserves.
I asked John how the Liverpool exhibition came about?
“Time is a great SF trope, you could say it has been 30 years in preparation!” explained John. “It’s four years since I was first approached to have the exhibition. The root of the exhibition is Science Fiction, comics and illustration, all of my my career, of which I am very proud, but more than that this is about Liverpool, about my roots, family, friends, support network and all the creative hands behind the presentation of this exhibition that features my art.
This whole event would not have happened with out Mike Edwards, an old college friend, who had pushed for me to have an exhibition in Liverpool for many years. Along with his team of talented designers at Kalidoscope, he designed and produced most of the design presentation.”
I asked John to describe how he’d worked with the professional curators of the exhibition as they put it all together?
“Working with Leonie Sedman, the curator, who along with Kirsty Hall had the hands on job of making this all come together in such an impeccable way, they decided the way the art would be presented which I think is one of the most imaginative use of wall space and combinations of art I have ever seen in any exhibition never mind comic and sequential art. Leonie saw threads and connections to the art that, even I as the artist did not see until it was pointed out, the back room people at the Victoria Gallery & Museum from Moira, fine art expert and the technicians who hung the work, had done such an impressive job relating the work to each other in groupings and along side my favourite artists who inspired me, all from the Gallery’s own collection such as JMW Turner, Lucien Freud and others in the inspiration corridor, which you walk down before you go into my exhibition proper.”
What feedback has there been from the public?
“All the visitors have all been very complimentary,” John told me with a smile. “The attendants in the gallery and front of house staff have been really impressed by how far some people have come to specifically see the exhibition which I find very gratifying. One of my regular readers/fans who have followed my work for many years, was so looking forward to coming along to the exhibition, he ‘accidently’ came a week before it opened (and didn’t get in!) but did come back and enjoy it a couple of weeks later!
I asked John how it felt to see his work and life the focus of such a large undertaking?
More smiles. “Overwhelmed! I never usually look back, as an SF artist I consider myself a futurist, always looking ahead. But this gave me the opportunity to revisit many parts of my long career, and I found it taught me fresh lessons, it made me reconsider how I approach my work today. I saw approaches I took years ago that I had maybe drifted away from. So I am hoping that it will give me a new creative spurt.”
And John’s fondest wish?
“That the exhibition will encourage young artists who come along to get involved in comic art.”
Beyond Dredd: The Art of John Higgins is at the Victoria Gallery & Museum, Ashton Street, Liverpool, L69 3DR until February 2018.