Above: The cover of 657 by Martin Emond. Copyright the Martin Emond Estate 2015.
While researching my book From Earth's End in 2012, I interviewed several friends and colleagues of the late great Martin F Emond (1969-2004), to help build a picture of his life and work for a spotlight chapter in my book. Emond was one of the few local cartoonists to successfully find comics work internationally in the 90's, first in the UK at publications like 2000AD and Toxic, and later in the US - working for DC Comics and a variety of others. I've written about his life and career in a previous retrospective blog, that you can read HERE.
One of the people I interviewed was Paul Rogers, a cartoonist and artist who was studying graphic design at the Auckland Institute of Technology (now A.U.T.) at the same time as Emond. During his tenure at A.I.T. it was clear how talented Emond was, but his sole focus on producing comics art and paintings at the expense of other assignments did create friction with the institute. When he wasn't invited back to complete the final year of his diploma, Emond set his sights on breaking into the UK comics instead, and on advice from Rogers set about producing a sample comic he could send out to comics editors to get their attention. The result was 657, a comic about a group of misfit superheroes (Ash, Ignition and Carmine) on a road trip.
Above: A pin-up of 657 by Martin Emond. Copyright the Martin Emond Estate 2015.
As Rogers recalls, '657 was produced by Martin in the NZ summer of late 1989 - early 1990, as a portfolio piece which he sent to (UK comics writer/editor) Pat Mills c/o 2000AD to try and get work in the English comic market. These samples got Martin his first commissioned work (Accident Man for the UK publication Toxic), which then led to White Trash and other things'.
The comic included a ten-page story and a series of character pin-ups. The results are a bit rough, but you can clearly see Martin's knack for stylised anatomy and decorative design developing here, and his interest in outsider characters living on the fringes of society, forming their own dysfunctional family to survive - a theme he would return to and refine in his most personal strip, Switch Blade.
The following artwork scans for the entirety of 657 were provided by Paul Rogers, with special thanks to the Martin Emond Estate. Enjoy!
Above: All 657 artwork and contents is copyright the Martin Emond Estate 2015.