Liam Sharp’s “love letter” to his first breakout comic success, Death’s Head II, takes shape

British comic artist Liam Sharp, acclaimed today for his recent work on Wonder Woman and Green Lantern, is drawing a two page Death’s Head II story for fun, to celebrate the fact it’s 30 years since his first break-out comic came out from Marvel UK.

Released in March 1992 under the guidance of Marvel UK’s Editorial Director, Paul Neary, written by Dan Abnett, the initial Death’s Head II mini series, inked by Andy Lanning, coloured by Helen Stone, captured the imaginations of comic fans of the day and sold over 150,000 copies.

Death’s Head II #1 (Mini Series) – cover by Liam Sharp, inked by Andy Lanning, coloured by Helen Stone

The first Marvel UK US format comic to be reprinted, the character flew in the face of Marvel US editors caution that “robot comics” did not sell. The phenomenal success of Death’s Head II, a complete revamp of the original Death’s Head, paved the way for Paul Neary’s “Genesis 1992” project, which included the weekly British comic, Overkill, in part intended to make Marvel UK less reliant on licensed comics, after the company lost the rights to publish numerous titles when former Managing Director Robert Sutherland left the company to set up Redan, taking some comics, such as top-selling Thomas the Tank Engine, with him.

Strangely, Marvel US has never reprinted any of the Death’s Head II stories, although the Genesis 1992 Knights of Pendragon comics are to be included in an upcoming Knights of Pendragon Marvel Omnibus, now scheduled for release in April.

Thirty years on since character debuted, Liam is drawing a two-page Death’s Head II and companion Tuck story, for fun, guest-starring The Hulk, Man Thing, and a couple of X-Men just for the hell of it.

Death's Head II (and companion, Tuck) at 30 - work in progress on the first page of Liam Sharp’s just for fun Death’s Head II celebration
Death’s Head II (and companion, Tuck) at 30 – work in progress on the first page of Liam Sharp’s just for fun Death’s Head II celebration

He plans to include it in his second of three collections of art and stories, Encore: Silver, currently in pre-production, the follow up to Encore: Gold, which secured publishing funding in just one hour last year.

“In case you missed it, I’m drawing a two page DHII story for fun to celebrate the fact it’s 30 years since my break-out comic came out,” Liam told followers on social media yesterday. For a while in ‘92 I was one of the hottest artists in the biz! Madness, I know. :-)”

Inks for the first page of Liam Sharp's Death's Head II just for fun project
Inks for the first page of Liam Sharp’s Death’s Head II just for fun project | Death’s Head II © Marvel Comics

Posting work online, Liam has clearly taken to re-visiting Death’s Head II and Tuck with relish.“Nostalgia can be a powerful thing!” He enthused.

Liam doesn’t plan to show progress on Page Two, as he doesn’t want to spoil the story… “But I will say it has Reed Richards, Sue Storm and the Hulk on it…

Death's Head II artist Liam Sharp in the Marvel UK 'Bullpen' - the Arundel House basement, circa 1994. Photo: Tim Quinn.
Artist Liam Sharp in the Marvel UK ‘Bullpen’ – the Arundel House basement, circa 1994. Photo: Tim Quinn

Currently working on his own independent comics project for a image Comics, Starhenge, over the past 30 years since his early success, Liam has worked for Marvel, DC,Vertigo, Wildstorm, Image, Dark Horse, Fleetway and Dynamite, producing a huge range of eclectic work, in every imaginable genre.

Coming Soon: Starhenge, by Liam Sharp

His most recent credits include a ground-breaking and acclaimed epic 24 p-issue run on DC’s The Green Lantern with Grant Morrison, and Batman: Reptilian with Garth Ennis (the latter out in collection in May).

An early test piece for the new look Wonder Woman drawn by Liam Sharp. "It's not quite right, but it's getting there! " says Liam. Wonder Woman © DC
An early test piece for the new look Wonder Woman drawn by Liam Sharp. Wonder Woman © DC

Before these, and before his award-winning six issue limited series The Brave and The Bold: Batman and Wonder Woman (which he also wrote) and before the wildly successful Wonder Woman: Rebirth with fan-favourite writer Greg Rucka, Liam had a long and distinguished career as an artist and also a writer of both comics and prose fiction. He has also been a well-regarded boutique publisher, co-founding both the Mam Tor imprint and the ground-breaking digital company Madefire.

Sharpy Productions: | Follow Liam Sharp on Twitter

Check out our guide to the Marvel UK “Genesis 1992” project – both published and unpublished projects – here

Watch – Opening Shot – The brainchild of Melvyn Bragg, Opening Shot was an arts programme for Channel 4. One episode, first broadcast 10th August 1993 and found on YouTube, focused on British creators working on US comics and included interviews with Marvel’s Stan Lee, Marvel UK Editorial Director Paul Neary, Death’s Head II artist Liam Sharp, inker and writer Andy Lanning, US artist Jan Duuresema, 2000AD artist Maya Gavin and Marvel US editor Bobbie Chase and more. Watch out for cameo appearances by artists Edmund Perryman (Edmund Bagwell, who we sadly lost to cancer), Bryan Hitch and Martin Griffiths

Death’s Head II and Tuck © Marvel Comics | Starhenge copyright Liam Sharp

The founder of downthetubes, which he established in 1998. John works as a comics and magazine editor, writer, and on promotional work for the Lakes International Comic Art Festival. Working in British comics publishing since the 1980s, his credits include editor of titles such as Doctor Who Magazine, Star Trek Explorer (previously known as Star Trek Magazine) and more. 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 "Pilgrim: Secrets and Lies" for B7 Comics; “Crucible”, a creator-owned project with 2000AD artist Smuzz; and “Death Duty” and “Skow Dogs” with Dave Hailwood.

Categories: British Comics, Comic Creator Spotlight, Comics, Creating Comics, downthetubes Comics News, downthetubes News

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