Art For Art’s Sake #164: Celebrating The Work Of Alan Grant
by Richard Bruton
Another great loss to comics came this week with the death of another legend, Alan Grant. Here, we celebrate his creations in Art For Art’s Sake.
2022 really has been a terrible year for losing the greats of comics. And now we have the loss of Alan Grant, the writer of Judge Dredd and Batman, who died aged 73 on 20th July 2022.
Simply put, Alan Grant was part of the creative DNA of 2000 AD and will forever be associated with so many of the comic’s characters, including Judge Dredd, Judge Anderson, Strontium Dog, and so many more. But he was also a major influence on the development of Batman during the 90s, as well as other major works for both DC Comics and Marvel Comics. His creativity and passion never seemed to diminish either, with 2016’s Rok of the Reds a shining example of his work alongside frequent collaborator John Wagner and artist Dan Cornwell.
His writing was just so good, a wonderful ear for dialogue, razor-sharp politic satire, a great touch of humour and the ability to find the absolute ridiculousness of a situation, yet he’d also write tales of huge import and craft empathetic characters and stories that would deeply affect his readers.
His creativity was immense but, as shown by the tributes to him since his death, his personality and his generosity was even bigger. He acted as a mentor for so many, including the likes of Grant Morrison and Mark Millar, and always seemed to find the time to respond to new and upcoming writers and artists, whether at conventions or by mail. These small acts are well remembered throughout the comics community by so many whose lives Alan touched.
We send our heartfelt condolences to his wife, Susan, and Alan’s friends and family, including the family of readers who loved his work.
Comics is lessened by Alan Grant’s loss.
ALAN GRANT – 9 February 1949 – 20 July 2022
Born in Bristol in 1949, Grant moved to Scotland at the age of one and had lived in the Scottish village of Moniaive for many years with his wife, Susan Grant, where they organised the annual Moniaive Comics Festival. He first entered comics in 1967 as editor at DC Thompson before moving to London to work at IPC in 1970. Work at IPC led to 2000 AD, where Grant would long feature as the character, ALN-1, Tharg’s Scottish robo-assistant.
A brief stint editing 2000 AD ended when Grant resigned and became a freelance writer. Although during that time, he did so much to understand that 2000 AD needed a rich and vital writing pool, leading him to find and nurture new writing talent, including a certain Mr Alan Moore, whose script he found in the unsolicited submissions pile.
As part of the Grant/Wagner writing team, often under pseudonyms, including John Howard and TB Grover, Alan’s contribution to 2000 AD in the 80s was huge. It began midway through Judge Dredd: The Judge Child saga and went on to define what Judge Dredd was, leading to epics including The Apocalypse War and City of the Damned, as well as the tales of Strontium Dog, Robo-Hunter, Ace Trucking Co. and so many more.
In the late 80s, both Wagner and Grant gravitated to the USA, eventually leading Grant to write Detective Comics for much of the 90s, a legendary run on the title, mostly with the much-missed Norm Breyfogle.
The Grant/Wagner partnership split in 1990, following their series for Epic Comics in 1990, The Last American with Mick McMahon. The split came from their disagreement over whether to kill off sky-surfer Chopper in another Dredd epic, Oz.
Whilst still working with 2000 AD, Wagner and Grant divided up their workload with Wagner getting Judge Dredd and Grant getting Strontium Dog and Judge Anderson. This led to Grant writing the climactic Strontium Dog: The Final Solution, where Johnny Alpha was killed off by Grant, something he’s reported to have regretted later on and a strip that co-creator Carlos Ezquerra refused to draw.
It wasn’t the complete end to them working together though, as they would return on several projects in the next 30 years, including the Batman/Dredd crossovers beginning with 1991’s Judgement on Gotham with Simon Bisley on art duties.
Alongside his long Detective Comics run in the 90s, Grant continued to work for 2000 AD, mainly on Anderson, Psi Division, including some beautiful and visionary work with artist Arthur Ranson on Shamballa and Satan, plus the three-book series Mazeworld. Further 90s work saw Wagner and Grant self-publish The Bogie Man and Grant and Bisley write and draw the incredibly popular Lobo for DC, leading to more DC work including L.E.G.I.O.N, The Demon, Shadow of the Bat, and Anarky.
Through the 2000s, Grant wrote Judge Anderson, scripts for animated series, and the adaptation of Robert Louis Stevenson’s Kidnapped, drawn by Cam Kennedy, as part of the Edinburgh City of Literature programme in 2007. Not slowing down, he also formed two publishing companies, Bad Press Ltd, which memorably published Shit the Dog, drawn by Simon Bisley, as well as the Wasted anthology, and Berserker Comics.
Moving into the 2010s, Grant worked with artist Robin Smith to create Scott vs Zombies – again, Alan’s generous nature at play, the comic was Alan fulfilling a wish of a young autistic fan to be a hero in his own comic – and the award-winning Canadian’s children’s graphic novel The Loxleys and the War of 1812 with artist Claude St. Aubin.
In 2016, joining with John Wagner once more and artist Dan Cornwell, Grant returned to an idea he and Wagner had had 25 years prior, and the three of them produced the series Rok of the Reds and Rok the God, all about an alien footballer.
Even though ill in hs later years, he continued to write, with his last work for 2000 AD being a Judge Anderson story in 2018 and a war story in the Battle Special in 2020. And finally, rather fitingly for the man, one of Alan’s last works was leading the village of Moniaive to produce a pandemic comic about community spirit.
Now, some more of the art for the stories that Alan wrote…
First, for 2000 AD…
(Strontium Dog: The Final Solution – art by Simon Harrison)
Ace Trucking Co
Judge Anderson, Psi-Division
Mazeworld – all art by Arthur Ranson
Now some of his work for DC Comics…
Detective Comics – all art by Norm Breyfogle
Lobo – art by Simon Bisley
Shadow of the Bat – art by Norm Breyfogle
Anarky – art by Norm Breyfogle
Batman: The Scottish Connection – art by Frank Quitely
And some work for Marvel/Epic…
Last American – art by Mick McMahon
Punisher: Blood On The Moors – art by Cam Kennedy
Bogie Man – art by Robin Smith
Shit the dog
Kidnapped – art by Cam Kennedy
Scott vs Zombies – art by Robin Smith
The Loxleys and the War of 1812 – art by Claude St Aubin
Rok of the Reds – art by Dan Cornwell
One of Alan’s final stories – for the Battle Special in 2020, art by Davide Fabbri and Domenico Neziti –
Another of Alan’s last works – Moniaive Fights Back –