Nigel Dobbyn and Billy and Katie

In Memoriam: 2000AD and Sonic the Comic Artist Nigel Dobbyn

Nigel DobbynI’m very saddened to report the sudden passing of 2000AD and Sonic the Comic artist Nigel Dobbyn, a comic creator whose work I very much admired. He was just 56.

Via fellow artist Nigel Kitching, Nigel’s wife, Sue, tells us he had been happy and feeling well – but died of a sudden heart attack, last Saturday.

A hugely talented British comic artist, illustrator, photographer, poet, web designer and writer, his first comics work was the fanzine Killing Stroke, on “Lyle: Blazerider” with Shane Oakley; and strips for later issues of Harrier’s Avalon title in 1987.

His first published work for 2000AD was a “Future Shock” which appeared in Prog 588, cover dated 20th August 1988, written by Steve Dillon; he would draw two others, one by Hilary Robinson, who he would go on to work with on “Medivac 318“, which they co-created. His other credits include, mist recently, “Ace Trucking” with Eddie Robson, but also “Trash”  written by Paul Kupperberg, “Red Razors” with Mark Millar and “Strontium Dogs” with Garth Ennis.

Nigel also contributed a strip for Deadline (Issues 24) and drew Hilary Robinson’s “Melissande”, a Celtic fairy tale in a mythic land of dinosaurs, for Mindbenders in the 1980s. His work on 2000AD also led to some work for DC Comics, including three issues of Judge Dredd: Legends of the Law and an issue of The Demon.

"Ace Trucking Co.: The Banned Brand Stand" by Eddie Robson, Nigel Dobbyn, and Ellie De Ville
“Ace Trucking Co.: The Banned Brand Stand” for the 2016 2000AD Summer Special, by Eddie Robson, Nigel Dobbyn and Ellie De Ville

He is also well known for his outstanding work on Sonic the Comic between 1995 and 1999, one of the most popular artists on the titles, also working as a colourist, and often working with Lew Stringer, who scripted some of his stories for the title; and for breathing new life into “Billy the Cat” for DC Thomson’s Beano, drawing on a strip by Mike Chinn, first in 2005 and later in a number of annuals, including a Billy the Cat and General Jumbo story in the 2008 Beano Annual, written by Kev F Sutherland.

A tribute to Sonic the Comic by Nigel Dobbyn created for a 25th Anniversary event
A tribute to Sonic the Comic by Nigel Dobbyn created for a 25th Anniversary event

PrintMedia Productions, who licensed the use of King Cobra for its STRIP Magazine in 2013, had also negotiated rights for a new Billy the Cat project, both written and drawn by Nigel,  it foundered when the title abruptly ceased publication. Nigel had worked up a terrific synopses and some designs, featuring an older Billy and Katie.

The first Billy strip Nigel drew in 2005, for the 2006 Beano annual). This version is re-lettered by Nigel disliked the original Beano lettering. Script by Nigel Kitching. Billy the Cat © D.C.Thomson and Co. Ltd.
The first Billy strip Nigel drew in 2005, for the 2006 Beano annual). This version is re-lettered by Nigel disliked the original Beano lettering. Script by Nigel Kitching. Billy the Cat © D.C.Thomson and Co. Ltd.
"Billy the Cat and Katie" for the Beano Annual 2007 - script by Nigel Kitching, art by Nigel Dobbyn. Billy the Cat and Katie are © D. C. Thomson and Co.
“Billy the Cat and Katie” for the Beano Annual 2007 – script by Nigel Kitching, art by Nigel Dobbyn. Billy the Cat and Katie are © D. C. Thomson and Co.
"Billy the Cat: The General" from Beano Annual 2009. Script by Kev Sutherland, art by Nigel Dobbyn. © D. C. Thomson & Co. Ltd
“Billy the Cat: The General” from Beano Annual 2009. Script by Kev Sutherland, art by Nigel Dobbyn. © D. C. Thomson & Co. Ltd
Billy the and Katie the Cat by Nigel Dobbyn, redesigns for a planned reboot for STRIP Magazine. Billy the Cat © DC Thomson Media
Billy the and Katie the Cat by Nigel Dobbyn, redesigns for a planned reboot for STRIP Magazine. Billy the Cat © DC Thomson Media

More recently, Nigel was one of several creators to work on Time Bomb Comics new Brawler anthology, on the strip “28 AR“, written by Richmond Clements.

“Nigel was an incredible talent and someone I called a friend,” writer Richmond Clements said in a brief tribute online.

28 AR by Richmond Clements and Nigel Dobbyn
28 AR by Richmond Clements and Nigel Dobbyn

Nigel’s many other credits include his superb work on Classical Comics’ Macbeth and The Tempest (with Jon Haward); Digimon for Dark Horse, which led to work on Panini’s UK Digimon comic and a great many other licensed characters, including Panini’s Spider-Man and Friends, right up until, sadly, the company was no longer able to create new strips; and “Simba Khan“, as inker and colourist working with Jon Haward for Aces Weekly, a strip written by Paul H. Birch.

"Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles" for the BBC's FBX magazine, published in 1999. Art by Nigel Dobbyn. Just one of many licensed characters he worked on across his career
“Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles” for the BBC’s FBX magazine, published in 1999. Art by Nigel Dobbyn. Just one of many licensed characters he worked on across his career
One of Nigel's final pages for Panini's Spider-Man and Friends, published in 2011.
One of Nigel’s final pages for Panini’s Spider-Man and Friends, published in 2011.

He also produced the art for Anthony Horowitz‘s Power of Five: Nightrise graphic novel, working with Tony Lee, published by Walker Books, and more recently, a series of three H. P. Lovecraft-inspired books for Arcturus Publications and “Goblin Princess” for Redan’s Sparkle World title.

Nigel Dobbyn's illustration for the Goblin Princess story "The Magic Sandcastle",  for Redan’s Sparkle World, published in 2017
Nigel Dobbyn’s illustration for the Goblin Princess story “The Magic Sandcastle”, for Redan’s Sparkle World, published in 2017

His other work included art for the multimedia Death Ingloria project in 2017, providing art for a comic written by Galina Rin, scripted by Hilary Robinson.

Art by Nigel Dobbyn for the multimedia "Death Ingloria" project, released in 2017
Art by Nigel Dobbyn for the multimedia “Death Ingloria” project, released in 2017

He was also the writer and artist behind Kirkleatham Museum’s “Saxon Princess” comic strip which is still currently on display; and outside of comics, he illustrated many books, including creating work for numerous colouring books published by Artelle Art Supplies, Calm Colour Create magazine and Studio Lambert and even a set of SF-inspired playing cards.

"Saxon Princess" by Nigel Dobbyn, a comic strip for Kirkleatham Museum
“Saxon Princess” by Nigel Dobbyn, a comic strip for Kirkleatham Museum
One of Nigel's intricate illustrations for his colouring book work
One of Nigel’s intricate illustrations for his colouring book work
"A Cat is a Tiger fed by Hand" - a wonderful illustration by Nigel Dobbyn
“A Cat is a Tiger fed by Hand” – a wonderful illustration by Nigel Dobbyn

Although described as a quiet man by friends, he happily passed his skills on to young creatives at workshops across the country, was a regular convention guest, helped out on many a fan publication, including Zarjaz, and ever eager to share his love of art and artists in general on forums such as the Facebook Illustration Art Archives.

Zarjaz 27 - Cover by Nigel Dobbyn
Zarjaz 27 – Cover by Nigel Dobbyn

On the Saturday Nigel died, he went out with his wife Sue for breakfast, which he enjoyed. He commented that “Saturdays don’t get much better than this”.

“It was a typical comment from my dear friend who seemed very content and happy with his life,” Nigel Kitching told downthetubes.

“This news is terrible,” comments Lew Stringer. “Nigel was a brilliant comic artist I was proud to count as a friend. Nigel drew a lot of the stories I wrote for Sonic the Comic in the 1990s and always did a fantastic job.”

Art for the fourth episode of "Medivac 318" by Nigel Dobbyn, scripted by Hilary Robinson, published in 1989
Art for the fourth episode of “Medivac 318” by Nigel Dobbyn, scripted by Hilary Robinson, published in 1989

“Everyone here at 2000AD was shocked and saddened to hear of Nigel’s death,” said Matt Smith, editor, “and our deep condolences got out to his family. He was fantastically adept artist, equally capable of conveying the deep-space drama of Medivac 318 as he was the manic energy of the Strontium Dogs Gronk stories. A regular contributor to the Prog during the 1990s, his clear storytelling, strong lines and bold colours made him an instantly recognisable presence.

“Although he’d dropped out of the comic in the noughties, he came back recently to draw some ‘Ace Trucking’ one-offs, and he did a beautiful job on the characters, instilling the pages with the humour and action he did so well.”

The downthetubes team extends its deepest sympathies and condolences to Nigel’s family and friends at this very sad time. He will be very much missed.

Nigel Dobbyn, born 9 March 1963, died 24th August 2019, survived, by his wife Sue and daughter, Megan

2000AD Tribute by Michael Molcher

• Bear Alley: Nigel Dobbyn (1963-2019) – A Tribute by Steve Holland

Lew Stringer pays tribute to Nigel here on his “Blimey” blog, including examples of one of the strips he worked on with him

Heroes of 2000AD No. 100: Nigel Dobbyn

Nigel Dobbyn’s art on Comic Art Fans

Billy the Cat and Katie Gallery on DeviantArt

Lambiek: Nigel Dobbyn

NIGEL DOBBYN ONLINE

Official Web Site | Facebook Page | DeviantArt | Flickr | Poetry

All art featured here © respective creators and publishers

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John Freeman

The founder of downthetubes, John works as a comics editor, writer, as Creative Consultant on the Dan Dare audio adventures for B7 Media, and on promotional work for the Lakes International Comic Art Festival. Working in British comics publishing for over 30 years, his credits include editor of titles such as Doctor Who Magazine, Star Trek Magazine and Babylon 5 Magazine. He also edited the comics anthology STRIP Magazine and edited several audio comics for ROK Comics. He has also edited several comic collections, including volumes of “Charley’s War and “Dan Dare”. He’s the writer of “Crucible”, a creator-owned project with 2000AD artist Smuzz, published on Tapastic; and “Death Duty” and “Skow Dogs” with Dave Hailwood for digital comic 100% Biodegradable.

5 thoughts on “In Memoriam: 2000AD and Sonic the Comic Artist Nigel Dobbyn

  1. Really very sad. I only knew Nigel from the few times we met at conventions, back when we were in the comic book industry together, but I always found him to be a quietly funny and very nice guy to be around.
    My sincere condolences to his friends and family.

  2. Nigel drew almost every one of my Spider-Man & Friends comic strips over its five year run. Though we never had direct contact, his work was always a joy, never once did he do less than go above and beyond what was asked of him. His passing is a huge loss to comics.

  3. This is a nice tribute. Nigel was a lovely person and never changed over the thirty-odd years I knew him. I am deeply distressed by his early death.

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