Comic Creator Spotlight: Comic Artist Tony O’Donnell

downthetubes highlights the work of many comic creators, but after Orkney-based comic artist and illustrator Tony O’Donnell kindly sent us his report on the recent Jim Baikie exhibition at the Kirkwall Museum, he also sent us his current biography, which made for fascinating reading. Rather than let it simply lurk as a footnote, we thought we’d give it a bigger boost…

Tony O'Donnell. Photo: Dorothy O'Donnell

Tony O’Donnell. Photo: Dorothy O’Donnell

Tony O’ Donnell, the writer of this article, was born in Grangemouth in 1957, a comics artist and illustrator who  grew up with a keen interest in comics, science fiction and drawing. He studied Graphic Design and Illustration at Edinburgh College of Art, gaining a Post Graduate Diploma in 1980. While working as an Illustrator between 1978 – 1979 via a Job Creation Scheme he also contributed to Near Myths 4 and 5.

In 1980, his cover art for Near Myths 4 was exhibited in the Mall Gallery as it had been accepted for the Association of Illustrators Annual. A few years later, the painting – titled “Thiirania” – was used as the cover for Imagine magazine.

In late 1980 Tony joined the Temple Art Agency and started working full-time as a comic strip artist.

His credits at the time included Scoop, Buddy, Spike, Starblazer, Star Romance, Sunrise, Redfox, The Real Ghostbusters and “Combat Wombat”, co-created with Steve White, for Marvel UK’s Strip, Issue 13.

In the 1990s, Tony moved onto Illustration work, part-time lecturing and also painting murals and running Comic Art Workshops. He also found the time to become a husband to Dorothy and a father to Laura and Garen.

Tony was also a regular artist on DC Thomson’s Football Picture Story Monthly between 1992 and 2003, when he illustrated the final issue. At this time, he was also busy drawing for The Beano, The Beano Library, Summer Specials and Annuals. This schedule lasted four years and came to an end in 2007.

Intriguingly, in 2006 he completed work on Socorro, for Platinum Comics, a crime fiction graphic novel, written by Steven Grant. This book remains unpublished to date.

A recent football caricature for an Aberdeen fan by Tony O' Donnell, created in Brush Pen and ink and watercolour. Tony mainly works from photographs to create these, as long as the face in the photo is clear and sharp and at least passport size

A recent football caricature for an Aberdeen fan by Tony O’ Donnell

Tony moved to Orkney in 2005, after his work on “Ivy the Terrible” ended for The Beano, and found what work he could, ranging from a Night Porter to Youth Worker, while also working as an illustrator and caricaturist.

In 2015, Tony who is a First Dan Black Belt and a Grade II Coach, started the Orkney Judo Club with the help of his wife, Dorothy. In 2017, they created a new business venture – The Orkney Experience. Tony painted a number of murals depicting Orkney legends and stories for the business. Sadly, despite a promising start, a Business Start up Award and brilliant reviews on Trip Advisor, the projected number of visitors did not materialise and the business came to an end in 2019.

Tony is now concentrating on building up his freelance work, drawing caricatures and working as an illustrator for the Graham-Cameron Illustration Agency. His art has been exhibited in recent years alongside the work of Jim Baikie, Cam Kennedy and Alex Leonard.

Find Tony O’Donnell on Facebook

Tony O’ Donnell, creates his caricatures in Brush Pen and ink and watercolour. He mainly works from photographs to create these, as long as the face in the photo is clear and sharp and at least passport size – contact him via his Facebook Page for more information

TONY O’DONNELL: A GALLERY

Tony's first ever shot at using Caran'd'ache colour pencils, a scene from War of the Worlds by H.G.Wells.

Tony’s first ever shot at using Caran’d’ache colour pencils, a scene from War of the Worlds by H.G.Wells. “This was my final project at Art College,” he notes. “In three weeks, you had to design the book cover as well as a set number of black and white and also colour illustrations.”

Tony O'Donnell's black and white poster art for Near Myths 5, published in March 1980. A print was quickly coloured for the cover at short notice

Tony O’Donnell’s black and white poster art for Near Myths 5, published in March 1980. A print was quickly coloured for the cover at short notice

The cover of Near Myths #5, art by Tony O'Donnell

The cover of Near Myths #5, art by Tony O’Donnell

Tony O'Donnell's cover for the fanzine AKA (#6), published in the early 1980s

Tony O’Donnell’s cover for the fanzine AKA (#6), published in the early 1980s

Tony O'Donnell's cover for Swiftsure Presents No 14 - Black Berghese Warrior, published by Harrier Comics in 1987.

Tony O’Donnell’s cover for Swiftsure Presents No 14 – Black Berghese Warrior, published by Harrier Comics in 1987. “Aside from the strong use of yellow,” says Tony, “and all the inking done with Rotring pens, what I remember most about this job was just how time consuming and difficult it was to do three colour separations on acetate sheets!”

A Christmas Card for Dorothy Brookes, a clothes shop in Falkirk, drawn by Tony O'Donnell in 1989

A Christmas Card for Dorothy Brookes, a clothes shop in Falkirk, drawn by Tony O’Donnell in 1989

Sample inks for Marvel UK from the 1990s by Tony O'Donnell, featuring the Genetix characters and Wolverine. There are more examples on Tony's Facebook page

Sample inks for Marvel UK from the 1990s by Tony O’Donnell, featuring the Genetix characters and Wolverine. There are more examples on Tony’s Facebook page

A page from a Calamity James story for Beano Fun Size by Tony O'Donnell. Calamity James © DC Thomson

A page from a Calamity James story for Beano Fun Size by Tony O’Donnell. Calamity James © DC Thomson

Tony's version of The Joker, based partly on a photo ref of Conrad Veidt, who may have been the original inspiration for the DC Comics villain

Tony’s version of The Joker, based partly on a photo ref of Conrad Veidt, who may have been the original inspiration for the DC Comics villain

A cartoon Tony O'Donnell drew for the web page of the West Mainland Adventure Club

A cartoon Tony O’Donnell drew for the web page of the West Mainland Adventure Club

Tony O'Donnell conjures some modern day mythos with this striking pencil art, created in 2017.

Tony O’Donnell conjures some modern day mythos with this striking pencil art, created in 2017. “It started as a simple walking figure then came the mist, the rocks, the clouds,” notes Tony, “and since she had a sword I drew in some tentacles. It had been too long since I enjoyed a drawing as much.”

Tony O'Donnell - Orkney Folklore Cartoon

Orkney Folklore cartoon

Orkney Folklore Mural created in 2019, based on earlier art by Tony O'Donnell

Orkney Folklore Mural created in 2019, based on earlier art by Tony O’Donnell

Find Tony O’Donnell on Facebook

Tony O’ Donnell, creates his caricatures in Brush Pen and ink and watercolour. He mainly works from photographs to create these, as long as the face in the photo is clear and sharp and at least passport size – contact him via his Facebook Page for more information

Graham-Cameron Illustration Agency

For commercial work by Tony O’Donnell

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.



Categories: Comic Art, Comic Creator Spotlight, downthetubes Comics News, downthetubes News, Features

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