Brian Bolland was born on 26 March 1951 in Butterwick, Lincolnshire, the only child of a farmer, and discovered comics at the age of ten, quickly developing a preference for American artists like Carmine Infantino and Gil Kane, and British artists like Sydney Jordan, David Wright and Eric Bradbury. In the 60s he embraced the counter-culture and underground comics. He studied graphic design and art history at Norwich School of Art, and in the process taught himself about comics history. He wrote his dissertation on Neal Adams, an artist his teachers had never heard of.
While still a student, Bolland published his first fanzines, and had work published in underground magazines like Friendz, International Times and Oz. In 1971 he drew a cover for Dave Harwood's RDH Comics, and got his first paying work, an illustration of Buddy Guy for Time Out magazine. At Norwich, and later at the Central School of Art in London, he drew "Little Nympho in Slumberland" for the fanzine Suddenly at 2-o-clock in the Morning, and "The Mixed-Up Kid" for The Galloping Maggot, the Central School of Art's college newspaper.
In 1972 he attended a comic convention at the Waverley Hotel in London, and made numerous contacts, most significantly fellow artist Dave Gibbons. On Gibbons' advice he joined the Bardon Press Features agency, and got work drawing short strips for DC Thomson. Through Bardon, Bolland and Gibbons drew alternate issues of Powerman, a superhero comic for the Nigerian market, from scripts by Donne Avenell and Norman Worker, although Bolland struggled to meet deadlines and had to be assisted by Gibbons and Kevin O'Neill to finish the pages.
When 2000 AD started in 1977, Bardon got both artists work, Bolland initially on covers before an episode of "Judge Dredd" in December. From then on he became a semi-regular artist on the strip, although his slow speed meant he drew fewer episodes than Mike McMahon or Ian Gibson. He alternated with McMahon on the six-month "mega-epic" "The Cursed Earth", contributed to "The Day the Law Died", and rotated with McMahon and Ron Smith on "The Judge Child", created "Judge Death", and drew the final episode of "Block Mania".
In between Dredd assignments Bolland drew horror strips for Dez Skinn's House of Hammer, including inking Trevor Goring on an adaptation of the film Plague of Zombies, and drawing an adaptation of Vampire Circus from a Steve Parkhouse script. He also ghosted 13 episodes of Jeff Hawke for Sydney Jordan in 1977. He also did advertising and illustration work.
From 1980 he started getting work in America, starting with covers and backup strips for Green Lantern, Superman and Justice League of America. In 1982-83, he drew the futuristic Arthurian series Camelot 3000. His next significant strip work was the Batman graphic novel The Killing Joke, written by Alan Moore, which was released in 1988. Since then he has written and drawn numerous short Mr Mamoulian and The Actress and the Bishop strips, and one short Batman strip, "An Innocent Guy", but otherwise concentrated almost entirely on covers, insisting that he didn't want to draw any strips that were written or coloured by anyone else.
For much of his career drew with a brush and ink, but since 1997 he has drawn entirely digitally using a Wacom tablet.