In its 36-year history, the venerable U.K. comics anthology 2000AD has only ever featured a handful of superhero strips. Of those relative few, most commentators would say they’re a pretty strong bunch — one cold classic (“Zenith”), and a couple of neglected psychedelic gems (“Storming Heaven,” “Zaucer of Zilk”).
Darkest of them all is Rob Williams’ post-apocalyptic “The Ten-Seconders,” an ongoing tale that sets humanity against a race of superhuman aliens, the self-styled “gods.” When mankind decides to resist against the rule of their new super-powered overlords, the rag-tag group of surviving guerrillas dub themselves “The Ten-Seconders,” as 10 seconds is the average time a human can expect to last in a confrontation with a god.
During its previous two runs in 2000AD, “The Ten-Seconders” has been drawn by four artists: Mark Harrison, Dom Reardon, Sean Thomas and Ben Oliver. Now, after a five-year absence, the strip returns, revitalized by Williams’ pairing with Edmund Bagwell, an artist whose work effortlessly traverses from scenes of ordinary human life before the invasion to the graceful arrival of the gods, to their violence and terror, and onto hints of oncoming cosmic threats. Basically, Bagwell was born to work on this scale. In previous arcs, the threats were analogs for the Justice League and then the Vertigo anti-heroes. This time, we have Galactus/Celestial-styled creatures looming over the planet. Bagwell is one of those few artists whose work has a clear Kirby influence without that fully overpowering his entire style. I’ve been championing Bagwell’s work since 2006, and I literally cannot wait to see what he has in store for us this time.
2000AD has provided ROBOT 6 an exclusive first look at the full opening chapter of the return of “The Ten-Seconders.” It works as an introduction, a recap and as a secret origin for the series’ protagonist Malloy, and leaves us on a doozy of a cliffhanger. As such, it packs a hell of a lot into just six pages!
“The Ten-Seconders” returns July 3 in 2000AD Prog 1839.
Hey, you know who’s a seriously underrated artist? Matt “D’Israeli” Brooker. Let’s take some time to embarrass this mild-mannered Englishman with the type of fulsome praise the British, as a nation, handle so badly. The folks at 2000AD have sent along a video profile of the man (below), revealing an artist of rare intelligence and dry wit. He’s also one of the few artists I’ve seen taking full advantage of the freelancer lifestyle — you’ll see what I mean after watching the clip.
Few artists emerge with a fully developed style of their own, but D’Israeli certainly did, and I think if you showed someone unfamiliar with his work a page of his earliest strips — a “Timulo” from Deadline in 1989 or a Lazarus Churchyard from 1991 — and then presented them with a more recent page, from 2000AD‘s “Lowlife” or “Leviathan,” or from the amazing “XTNCT,” they would recognize it all as being produced by the same hand. Brooker may have constantly evolved and refined his line to its current slickness, but there’s an easily spotted commonality, an essential D’Israeli-ness, to it all. It’s hard to think of many of Brooker’s peers that you could say the same for.
After a period of screenings at festivals and conventions, the Judge Dredd fan film Judge Minty has finally been released in full online. Packed with Easter eggs for long-term 2000AD fans, it proves that these days it would be entirely feasible to produce an authentic and faithful version of the futuristic lawman on a small-screen budget. As much as I enjoyed last year’s Dredd 3D, it’s hard not to watch this short and list the things that this production did better. For starters, this budget effort manages to properly get the Lawmaster bike, a street judge’s preferred form of transport, something the Stallone and Urban films got wrong in their different ways.
Free Comic Book Day is once again upon us, the day that current and hopefully potential comic fans flock to their local comic shop to sample a buffet of comic choices from publishers large and small. There’s a lot to sink your teeth into this time around, from previews of new or upcoming stuff — like Marble Season and Superman: The Last Son of Krypton #1 to first issues of brand new comics — like The Strangers #1 and Aphrodite IX #1. There are original comics, licensed comics, kids comics, anthologies … basically something for everyone.
Some retailers will offer all-you-can-eat options, while others might have limits on what you can get … so if you have to make a choice, here are six comics we’re particularly looking to sink our teeth into.
There was a tantalizing, small, tightly cropped snippet of this image as a house ad in last week’s 2000AD, but here is the cover to Prog 1830 in all its insane glory. Available May 1, it’s a very retro effort by Elephantmen artist Boo Cook starring the cast of his new three-part miniseries “Gunheadz.” Tharg’s regular spokeshuman Michael Molcher explains:
Looks like the 2000AD publicity department are starting to take its Youtube channel seriously as a promotional tool: Alongside the trailers for various strips and some goofing around by creators, the magazine just posted a couple of videos with Simon Davis, one of the more under-appreciated artists in its stable for the past few decades. The videos quietly cover some news that will be seen by some as a big deal — that Davis is taking over as regular artist on the classic thrill “Slaine” (well, it’ll be news to most, though not those who listen to the ECBT2000AD podcast).
Davis broke into 2000AD during the 1990s “brown period” of muddily reproduced watercolor art. Davis’ work stood out by a mile as created by someone who understood how to paint comics that looked crisp and detailed on newsprint, often by making novel palette choices (becoming notorious along the way for using blue as a skin tone and giving the assassin character Finnegan Sinister the brightest of red noses). Davis is rare for a U.K. comics artist in that he’s never made any prolonged attempt at breaking into the American comics industry (I can only remember him producing a handful of pages for the JLA: Riddle of the Beast Elseworlds graphic novel alongside a dozen or so other painters). Instead, Davis’ work outside of comics has been as a storyboarder and as a fine-art painter of no small renown (his awarding-winning portraits can be seen at his website).
I’ve been writing about the Judge Minty short film since 2010, when after seeing the first teaser trailer I made the observation “these days Judge Dredd would be totally do-able on a BBC budget.” I still haven’t managed to see the bloomin’ thing yet, despite it becoming a U.K. comic convention staple since it premiered at the Leeds Film Festival last November.
Well, the wait is nearly over, as the production team has announced that it’ll soon be free to view on YouTube and Vimeo, without giving us an actual date yet (“in April/May” they vaguely state, the teasing sods). They’ve released a new extended trailer for the project to whet our appetites.
One thing this trailer adds is some great music. I’m no soundtrack expert, so for all I know it might be borrowed from elsewhere, but I do know that it reminds me of Jerry Goldsmith’s avant garde score for the original Planet of the Apes. And I still think that with a little ambition and imagination, Judge Dredd could work better on TV than in films.
I saw this, via the Twitter feed of PJ Holden, and shivered. There’s lots of people cosplaying as Judge Dredd these days — in both flavors, comic and movie — but I’ve never before seen anyone make an attempt at his most iconic enemy, Judge Death.
Well, that’s changed, as DeviantArt member “warrior1944” (presumably called Peter Olsson in real life, but it’s hard to tell from his site) has done a helluva job of capturing the essence of Brian Bolland’s design. Of course, we should all be at least a little bit worried that someone could be so inspired by one of the most chilling mass-murderers in comics, but that’s really between this kid and his psychiatrist.
Updated: 2000AD have been in touch to point out that these costumes are being sold without approval or license. While they’ve no issue with cosplayers dressing up as 2000AD characters, infringing on their copyright with the commercial sale of costumes is another matter altogether. The Rebellion folks are known for their close relationship with the official licensee on these matters, Planet Replicas. Presumably, all parties are taking action on this right now.
In comics, just as in television or film, there are countless unsung production staff tirelessly toiling to keep us entertained. To use a sporting analogy, working in the reprographics department of a comic publisher is the goalkeeper’s job: You rarely get the praise for keeping a clean sheet, but you’re the first one to get the blame if it all goes wrong. Meanwhile, the writers and the artists are at the other end, scoring all the goals, and getting all the glory.
Doing this often-thankless task in the skeleton crew that produces 2000AD is Kathryn “Kat” Symes. One thing the small backroom staff at their Oxford, England, base are known to do very well these days is manage the amazing back-catalog of material the title has accrued during its 35 years of continuous publication. If you’re a seasoned 2000AD spotter, you’ll have noticed how they’ve been reprinting a lot of strips from the early 1990s recently, a time sometimes known as “2000AD‘s brown period.” It was an era when a post-Bisley trend for painted artwork coincided with too-absorbent paper stock, and a steep learning curve for the staff as it settled in to being a full-color magazine after years of primarily black and white, which led to an awful lot of muddy-looking comics.
Symes seems to be on a single-handed quest to redeem an era of neglected comics through her work. In this interview with ROBOT 6, she gives a tremendous insight into what now goes on behind the scenes in bringing a comic to print, and provides some great examples of how her nuts-and-bolts work with scanners and image manipulation software can breath new life into the old, the faded and the damaged material in 2000AD‘s archives.
The U.K. comics community has been getting its knickers in a twist over the whole Ian Gibson/Bristol Comic Expo “nude Halo Jones” saga. Twitter and Facebook completely blew up over it Thursday morning, with the usual mix of knee-jerk condemnation and some occasional voices of reason rising above the din.
Some sterling detective work by Paul Holden revealed that the image at the center of the dispute wasn’t even originally Halo Jones, but a character from Gibson’s long-gestating LifeBoat strip. I’m glad, because some of the criticism on the matter sailed too close to being personal attacks on Gibson, which made me uncomfortable for a number of reasons. For starters, “The Ballad of Halo Jones” is a longtime cause celebre for those arguing for creators’ rights within the United Kingdom, especially in the matter of how oppressive the old status quo of IPC and DC Thomson could be.
Gibson is the co-creator of Halo, but sees little to no financial reward from (current owner of 2000AD) Rebellion’s continuing exploitation of the character. If Gibson were to somehow try and monetize his history with the character by working on commissions or selling limited-edition prints featuring the strip’s cast, would that be such a bad thing? The perspective of fans and publishers on such issues is radically different: After all, Marvel sued Ghost Rider co-creator Mike Friedrich for a similar matter. Besides, the Bristol Expo website makes it clear that all these limited-edition prints are being sold for charity.
Awards | A last-minute reminder: Today is the deadline for Eisner Awards submissions. [Eisner Awards]
Creators | Grant Morrison looks back on his run on Action Comics, which ends today with the release of Issue 18, and touches upon Multiversity and his long-discussed Wonder Woman project: “This is some of the most fun I’ve had in a long time, because it’s a completely different type of comic book. Usually I don’t do masses of research, but for Wonder Woman, I’ve actually been working my way through the entire history of feminism. I want this to be fucking serious, you know? I want this to be really, really good, to reflect not only what women think, but what men think of women. I’m trying to do something really different from what’s been done with the character before. That one’s been amazing fun, because it’s nothing like anything I’ve ever done before.” [Entertainment Weekly]
The great Brendan McCarthy has sent along this image, “Evanescent Everything,” to remind us all that “The Complete Zaucer is out on March 27th, in an ’80 page giant’ format. Lots of extras and a new afterword by me truly.” What a cool promo; it’d make a great black light poster. Kinda makes me want to put some Blue Cheer on the turntable and smoke a great big, uh, kipper. That’s right. A kipper, officer.
The London Super Con happened over the weekend, complete with a sizable roll call of legends attending (including Neal Adams, George Perez, Bill Sienkiewicz and Brian Bolland). These days, it wouldn’t be a U.K. comic convention without a fresh batch of photographs turning up in the Twitter stream of 2000AD super-fan John Burdis and friends dragged up as Mega City One judges, administering some on-the-spot justice to his fellow convention goers. This time, there were some familiar faces to be spotted amongst his willing victims: There are literally hundreds of shots like these on Burdis’s Facebook gallery. Also seen at Facebook: a very jolly-looking Batman sharing a joke with Judge Court.
The snow is piled high where I am, and May seems like a long time away, but the Free Comic Book Day folks are getting into the spirit by posting some free previews (or “prevues,” as they spell it, since these are Previews prevues). The selection includes Gilbert Hernandez’s Marble Season, a Molly Danger comic by Jamal Igle that will be bundled with a Princeless story by Jeremy Whitley, Atomic Robo, 2000AD, Brian Wood’s Star Wars, and more.
As in previous years, the FCBD website is also running a series of creator interviews. These aren’t particularly deep; all the creators get the same set of softball questions (actual question, I kid you not: “Tell us why everyone should read comic books?”) but some of them, like Fred Van Lente, go beyond “Comics are AWESOME!!!!!” and have a bit of fun with it. Recent interviews worth a glance include Cory Godbey, who is working on an adaptation of Jim Henson’s Labyrinth; Emmanuel Guibert and Mark Boutvant on Ariol; and Robert Venditti on X-O Manowar. It’s all nakedly promotional, but it’s promoting comics after all, and there is some good stuff in there, both in the responses and the art samples.
Does everybody remember Mongoose Publishing’s Kickstarter campaign to raise money for a range of Judge Dredd miniatures? I can’t think of many comics-based crowd-sourcing campaigns that reached their initial target so quickly and outstripped that original target by so much (after originally seeking $2,000, they finally ended at $101,457, allowing for multiple stretch goals). Well, now Mongoose is fundraising for another miniatures-RPG based on a classic 2000AD property Rogue Trooper. Again, they’ve quickly shot past their first target of £6,000 in just one week, allowing for another ambitious program of stretch goals to roll out.
Clearly Mongoose is tapping into something big with these campaigns, there’s a demand for these products that has probably gone unnoticed by non-gamers for years.