Brendan McCarthy, of Irish descent, was born in London and drifted through the early part of his life as a floating member of The Hanwell Dream Gang, a gathering of like-minded teenagers who had decided they would become artists and writers of world-renown. Brendan began painting and drawing his own home-made comics, influenced by the likes of quaint English 'gangsta-dandy' Vivian Stanshall, gothic illustrator 'Mad' Mervyn Peake, and Irish "Steel Claw" artist Jayzus O'Blasco.
After leaving Chelsea art college in London, where he studied film and Fine Art, Brendan decided to become a full time artist. He created the indy comic book Sometime Stories with art college pal Brett Ewins. His first paid commercial work was a one page strip Electrick Hoax in the British weekly music paper Sounds with another art school escapee, writer Peter Milligan in 1978. After this he started working for 2000 AD including Judge Dredd.
At the same time he was working on designs for his first television show - the unmade Dan Dare live action television series for Lew Grade's ATV in the 1970s. It was a stylish retro 50's take on the classic Eagle hero.
In 1980, inspired by the book The Razor's Edge, McCarthy decided to travel the globe on a futile and nonsensical metaphysical pilgrimage, ending up, via Egypt, India and the Himalayas, in Sydney, Australia. Deeply inspired by George Miller's punk masterwork, Mad Max 2, Brendan mulled over a post-apocalyptic surfing movie story, later written with Peter Milligan and called Freakwave. The film was never made but it was adapted into comics form by Milligan and McCarthy (the Hollywood movie Waterworld bore a striking resemblance to their story, a fact which was picked up on by US media and lawyers, at the time).
In 1983 Brendan McCarthy returned to the UK and to drawing comics, working on Strange Days, an anthology title published by Eclipse Comics, once again collaborating with his friends Peter Milligan and Brett Ewins. He also drew a two issue series featuring his alternative media-brat superhero Paradax from Strange Days. Around this time, one of his best-loved characters was created with Pete Milligan: Mirkin The Mystic was a kind of laconic, psychedelic Ditko-esque, Oscar Wildean, inter-dimensional traveller.
1986 saw Milligan and McCarthy produce Sooner or Later for 2000 AD, a surreal, psychedelic strip which split fan opinion but was critically well received by The Guardian, Travesty Magazine and The Council On Foreign Affairs. This was when the phrase McCarthyism was used to describe his distinctive style of art. This was followed by Neo-McCarthyism, post-indolent McCarthyism and Anti-McCarthyism and later supplemented with McCarthyism Neither-Nor and anything by The McCarthic Four.
Around this time, Brendan designed and storyboarded the Arabian cel animated TV series, New Babylon and also The Storyteller for Jim Henson's company.
Brendan designed the characters in Grant Morrison's Zenith strip which started in 1987. He also produced covers and character designs for Pete Milligan's revamp of Shade, the Changing Man. To this day McCarthy remains a huge Steve Ditko fan.
For Revolver McCarthy drew Rogan Gosh (later compiled into a single edition by the Vertigo imprint of DC Comics), and for Crisis he drew Skin, the tale of a thalidomide skinhead in 1970s London , both books created with and written by Peter Milligan. Skin proved to be highly controversial, with Crisis refusing to release the story and their printers refusing to print it due to insane claims of it being morbidly 'obscene'. The story remained in legal-limbo before eventually being released by Kevin Eastman's Tundra Publishing in 1992.
Brendan worked as designer on the films Highlander, the first live action Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles film, Lost In Space and The Borrowers. He also designed and contributed visual gags to the film Coneheads, working alongside SNL comedians like Dan Aykroyd, Adam Sandler, David Spade and Phil Hartman.
McCarthy spent much of the remainder of the 1990s working in film and television. Most notably as the designer of the CGI animated Sci-Fi TV series ReBoot and character creator for War Planets. ReBoot was a big worldwide success, and was the world's first long-form computer animated piece, predating both Pixar and Dreamworks' later movies. The highly inventive and quirky series really hit its strident stride in the second and third seasons, and is considered a classic example of early steam-driven computer animation. Episodes have been shown and stored at The Smithsonian Institute in Washington DC for posterity. Computer games, toys and motion rides were developed from the series.
In 2003 he was asked to co-write and design (the as yet unmade) Mad Max 4: Fury Road with director George Miller. Brendan also created, co-wrote and designed a surreal CGI animated feature, Fur Brigade, but it is unknown as to when this film will be made.
Brendan McCarthy has created a distinct body of work and in 2004 he took a year sabbatical and hired Steve Cook to help him design Swimini Purpose, an illustrated visual autobiography of his highly original art and design work. This was released in 2005 in the UK, as a limited artist's edition, and sold out within weeks. This very rare book has become a serious collectors' holy grail.
Recently, McCarthy featured in the final issue of DC Comics' Solo. His comic had new takes on characters such as The Flash, Batman, and Johnny Sorrow, as well as introducing a new comics' cavalcade of homeless, insane and transgendered social outcasts.
He remains active as an artist and writer, working around the world in film, TV and animation and developing his own ideas - such as the imaginary hit movie Hatman and the chilling, imaginary action film, Horrorville. The TV series Mater and Son remains as doggedly controversial as ever, a classic imaginary sitcom set in the saucy, sordid world of the traditional English 'dogging' community.
Comics work includes: