Cumbria-based artist Mal Earl has been busy over the past year away from comics, creating book covers and some beautiful art for his own pamphlet/chap books – but now he’s back, pushing the form again, working on an all-new story, Trinity, and the return of Prodigal – an, intriguing fantasy adventure that, for me, was one of the highlights of early issues of The77 anthology.
For those unfamiliar, Mal describes himself as a writer/artist born, bred and residing in the far North West of England between the Lake District fells and the historic industrial coastline of the Trachd Romhra. He’s perhaps best known in comics for his work such as “The Bridge” for Aces Weekly, and Lies and Other Fools, a powerful graphic poem working with chart-topping musician Kermit Leveridge, exploring a ‘near death’ moment brought about by septicaemia, contracted from a dirty needle, first published in 2017.
Constantly inventive, with a distinctive, unforgettable graphic style, I don’t think it’s speaking out of turn to say that finding his place in the world of comics, a medium Mal clearly loves, but can sometimes be difficult to make pay, has proven elusive. Back in 2017, he himself noted the pitfalls of juggling a comics career alongside full time work, a challenge facing many a creator in the UK thanks to the few opportunities for regular, paying work in the industry.
In uncertain times, Mal has been busy working on book cover commissions, and publishing some lovely A5 pamphlet/chap books, illustrating poems by writers such as Edward Thomas and Sam Smith, and continuing his collaboration with Kermit Leveridge.
But having taken a bit of a break from comics, the medium has called him back, and Mal recently teased a striking image of a new character, Trinity, destined for Ed Doyle and Alan Holloway’s Sentinel project. We don’t know much about this yet, but suggest keep an eye on the comic’s Facebook page here for updates.
Meanwhile, what of Prodigal, which flashed like a brilliant meteor across early issues of The77? A strip that offered an inspired mash-up of magic and mayhem, partly inspired by one of 2000AD’s original thrills, “Invasion”?
Well, for those who missed it, Mal is kindly sharing those early published episodes on a new, dedicated Prodigal page on Facebook – serving as an introduction to something coming early in 2022.
Which, of course, I’m delighted to hear – and I hope you are, too…
MAL EARL ONLINE
• Mal Earl’s co-conspirator on Lies and Other Fools Kermit Leveridge is online at www.kermitleveridge.co.uk
• To hear Howard Marks rendition of Lies and Other Fools visit internationaltimes.it/lies-and-other-fools/
• Read Aces Weekly online at www.acesweekly.co.uk