Last month comic artist Simon Bisley uploaded a series of candid YouTube interviews which are worth nothing for two reasons: 1.) I haven’t seen them publicized anywhere, and 2.) I now respect Bisley even more. He seems like chill dude.
You’re probably familiar with “BIZ” even if you don’t know him by name: his style warps male and female figures alike into tight collections of tense muscles and corded waists obscured with very little clothing. His flair for enormous boobs, butts and biceps is only matched by his raw painting ability, which imposes upon these forms what I can only describe as “fleshy volume.” Don’t let the crudeness of some of these illustrations fool you, he’s an immense talent.
Bisley is from the United Kingdom, where he drew for the comics anthology 2000AD in his early career. Some of that material is newly available in the States, including ABC Warriors: The Black Hole, a terse sci-fi yarn about a bunch of robot losers tasked with saving the galaxy. Bisley’s black and white work can be just as compelling as his paintings, though it’s obvious in the weekly grind of 2000AD he preferred to sacrifice a bit of readability rather than omit a maddening barrage of detail.
Bisley hit it big in the United States with Lobo: The Last Czarnian (1990), a collaboration with Alan Grant and Keith Giffen that re-invisioned the DC Comics character Lobo as a heavy metal mass-murderer who both channelled and mocked the stylistic excesses of superhero comics at the same time. Bisley’s art could not be ignored and the series was a hit, leading to a role he plays to this day: making American comics appear much cooler than they actually are with badass painted covers.
One year before Lobo, back in the UK, Bisley painted the best selling 2000AD graphic novel of all time: Slaine: The Horned God. It features Pat Mill’s fantasy hero Slaine, an Irish take on Conan the Barbarian, in the original Robert E. Howard sense of the character. Slaine is an adventurer, but he is also stilled, unassuming, and reasoned. The book is really, really, ridiculously good-looking, and it’s infused with Pat Mill’s writing sensibilities: unrestrained in both violence and action, with a free-wheeling sense of humor no one could blame you for calling a little bit corny.
Most recently the Biz has been whittling away at a still-incomplete biblical art project, not for especially religious reasons, but because he wants to play with the power of those symbols in his work. He’s also involved in an upcoming series called Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse, which sees him doing comic interiors at Heavy Metal for the first time in almost a decade.