With the new Sci-Fi Special getting released this week we got hold of Alec Worley who was good enough to answer some questions regarding both his work in general and his minor contribution to the aforementioned special. You know. Nothing major.
Just THE RETURN OF ROBO HUNTER!
The following all taken from their website HERE where you can also listen to or download the podcast in question
We talk about his childhood in Mottingham, with his mother being strafed by the Luftwaffe on the high street,the comics he read as a child and the long shadow the docks and people of Woolwich have cast on his work.
We also discuss his career in comics, from how little fun there was to be had in the Juvenile Humour Department at IPC Magazines to his seminal work on 2000AD, providing the artwork for the first cover and the first Future Shock and get the lowdown on the secret origin of Tharg as well as the incredible work he did on strips like Ro-Busters and Nemesis The Warlock.
Kevin then talks us through his clashes with the Comics Code Authority in America and what happened when he tried to pay them a visit and find out exactly what they were up to.
We round things off by talking about the epic scale of his work with Alan Moore on The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, particularly the transpontine elements in the series and try and pinpoint exactly where in South London the Antichrist lives…
As some of you may be aware, Tinman Games are currently working on a follow up to their digital choose your own adventure game Judge Dredd : Countdown Sector 106. We’ll hopefully be keeping an eye on this as it develops, they were good enough to give us an early play through on the last one, but to kick things off we had a chat with Bubba Zebill who is providing the art for this project.
Firstly let’s get your nerd credentials out of the way. Can you tell us about your history as a 2000AD fan?
Nerd Cred 1…Well, my first prog was during the Destiny’s Angels story (progs 281/288). I then hunted down almost all the back issues including 1 and 2. But my prize issues are in a box above my desk. Progs 72 to 78 of The Cursed Earth. Those are the issues that have ‘Giants Aren’t Gentlemen’ and ‘Burger Wars’, the issues of Dredd that can never be re-printed because they satirised actual corporations…and named them!
Nerd cred 2… Reading 2000AD got me drawing in the first place and maybe a year later my first rejection letter from Tharg. I became very interested in French comics and a big fan of Moebius. I was lucky to do my college work experience placement with Jim Baikie in Orkney. So I think I spent 12 days with the Baikie’s and it was just incredible to be able to do that. So it was with Jim that I had my first actual comic art experience, but sadly not on a Dredd strip. I carried out some rudimentary tasks for Jim on ‘Clive Barker’s Night Breed’ for Epic comics.
One of the best experiences of my life, I learned more with Jim in 12 days than I think I learned in 4 years at college!
Nerd Cred 3…I do a bit of acting now and again and my make-up lady on a recent production was none other than Meg Tanner who was in charge of make-up on Dredd-3D… she showed me a bunch of behind the scenes make up tests and stuff, amazing. Is that enough nerd cred?
You’re doing the artwork for the follow up to Judge Dredd: Countdown Sector 106. Can you tell us how this came about?
Tin Man posted a tweet about the first Dredd game book and I dropped them a line to say I’d always been a fan of Dredd and if they needed an artist etc etc. They liked my work a lot but had already completed the art on the first game book and they said they’d “keep me on file”. Everyone says that…but Tin Man actually DID and about 3 weeks later asked me to draw a last minute set of mugshots…I had about 60 seconds to get those done. When they started planning ‘The Dark’ they gave me all the illustration work….and all the time I needed!
Has this been a case of them giving you a script and letting you choose what you show or have they been really specific about what you do?
I drew a few pictures off the top of my head. Those were well liked because they fit the basic direction and will be used. Otherwise Nick Robinson has sent me a set of scenes to illustrate that are specific in some important ways but mostly wide open for me to interpret my way…and that’s kind of perfect really.
Have you had any input into the game’s content at all? Do you know if any of the script has changed due to artwork you’ve submitted?
I know the basic plot but have not read the story. I may have had an influence on perhaps one aspect of script development…maybe. I can’t say what it is but I can say I mentioned something about something to Nick, something Nick had originally considered and decided against or forgotten perhaps in the process of developing the story. This something is now very much part of the game book! The illustration that followed is now something of a favourite of mine….possibly the one I like most, and that’s saying…uh… something.
Roughly how many pieces of artwork have you had to create for this?
I’m at about 18 full colour paintings now, I’m laying out a PDF so that we all know where we stand and what is still needed. But I have about another 15 or so to do. I also have about 30 or so mugshots to do. And If you recall, there was a slightly animated opening to S106, with Dredd on his Lawmaster. So I volunteered a short animation sequence which I’ve been working on…it’s short, blip-vert short. But we’ll see, it may not make it in but if it does it’ll be a neat addition and follow up to the bike one which I really liked.
Were you asked, or did you decide yourself, to go for any specific version of Dredd or were you able to just create your own?
I’m standing on the shoulder-pads of giants here…Doing right by Mr Wagner and Mr Ezquerra is thought numero uno for me. I thought about how realistic or stylised it should be and for a nano-second wondered if it should be a film Dredd, but I decided Dredd should be film-like, like concept images for a film, but with Dredd in traditional uniform. I decided that I’d lean toward ‘realistic’ because I have the opportunity to lavish time on single images, but some of the images would look like very polished panels while fast-action should be perhaps more chaotic and grainy, even verging on abstract at first glance. I decided at the beginning that it was not my job to try and put my spin on Dredd, I think that would be awful. The work has to emulate the best we’ve seen of the comic over the years, that’s my only concern. So I decided it would be gritty, he’d be lean rather than overly muscular. The son of a bitch has to be just about the hardest character to draw to be honest….and the best.
You’ve also done a strip for Zarjaz. How does sequential work compare to the game work you’ve done?
Jurassic Farce by Lee Robson, yes. Comics are a lot harder. Paintings can be quite detailed but in comics detail can really slow story-flow down for the reader. Knowing just what to put in is the hallmark of a master and that comes with experience. Continuity is also a nightmare. I get very uptight about these things and it makes the process miserable. But I was recently heartened to see that one of my favourite Dredd artists completely forgot to include an elbow pad in one of Dredds most famous battles….best of all – nobody noticed!
Jurassic Farce did help me get my Dredd in order. Oddly enough one drawing I made for JF ended up later being used as a mugshot in “Judge Dredd: Countdown Sector 106″ as it just happened to fit the description of one perp and I’d begun both projects at the same time. So one of Lee’s creatures is in 106!
Are you a gamer yourself? Also did you ever used to play any of the Choose Your Own Adventure books back in the dark ages?
I didn’t play CYOA games…I’m not a gamer really. But I did go nuts with ‘Escape From Castle Wolfenstein’ some years ago, I love that game and when I can I’m getting the new one. My wife also reminds me that I played Doom incessantly when she was pregnant with our twins….poor wee souls, they must have heard all that shooting and growling as they bobbed around in the womb.
Art nerd question. Can you tell us a bit about your process and what you use to create your artwork?
On the game book I’m using Manga Studio EX4 and Photoshop for colours and textures. I use a Wacom Intuos 2 tablet, or did until it broke down after 7yrs of hard labour, so now I’m on the Intuos 3. In 2007 I went to Slovenia to work on a film and bought the Intuos 3 to take incase I got a commission while away from my desk. I didn’t and the I3 stayed boxed until about 2 weeks ago when my I2 became ‘eccentric’. In addition I use Anime Studio and Motion Artist. I’ve experimented with Mudbox with comics I find it’s helpful to build the character. This is a trick I learned from Jim Baikie who, while explaining the usefulness of modelling clay pulled an odd looking object from his desk drawer…turning it he said ‘Skiizz’. And you know, it damn well was!
On other projects I’m likely to use pastels, scraper board, oils on canvas, watercolour and red wine too. I started painting with wine about 6 or 7 years ago, I may be wrong but at the time I searched for others doing this and found only one artist in California. Now many artists are using wine…so I think I may have popularised the process. Maybe.
Bubba Zebill, that’s an unusual name, is it real and if not why do you use it?
Y’know people don’t really mean it when they say “I could tell you but I’d have to kill you.” But I mean it, I would have to kill you and in as ruthlessly efficient a manner as possible. Unless…unless you bought me a pint of Guinness, then I might relent. But otherwise…
Lastly can you let us know when the game is due out and where else people can check your work out?
I don’t know the launch date but it’s definitely not this year. I could say summer 2014…but that wouldn’t stand up to your lie-detector because I simply don’t know. Tin Man are rolling out a lot of projects at the moment, those boys and girls are busy!
As for me, my OPIPOP website should be up again soon. In the meantime you can see what I get up to at this blog …
and I’m on Twitter here… @Opipop
and I tweet my Dredd Gamebook progress here… @BubbaZebill
With the first issue of this only one day away Al Ewing took time out of his worryingly busy schedule to answer a few questions.
Can you tell us a bit about how Mars Attacks Judge Dredd came together and how you got involved.
Well, my basic understanding is that fan reaction to the cover IDW did was so positive that they decided to do it for real. Anyway, they gave me a shout, and the IDW Dredd universe sounded like a good place to do the kind of Dredd story I haven’t really done recently, just a really fun, crazy romp as opposed to the quite grim, noir-y, Richard Stark-inspired stuff that seems to fit the regular 2000AD Dreddverse at the moment. So I jumped at it.
How familiar with the Mars Attacks universe were you prior to writing this?
I’ve seen the film – not part of the IDW Mars Attacks universe, so that wasn’t that much of a help – and I’ve read the bubblegum cards. And obviously, when I got the gig, I did a bit of research on previous IDW Mars Attacks comics, to see what sort of tone they were after – whether they wanted camp or pulp or a little bit of both.
When writing this story were you told it had to work within any existing continuity, either 2000AD or IDW, or were you allowed to treat it as a totally stand alone story?
It’s technically in the IDW continuity, but if push comes to shove it could easily be treated as a completely stand-alone story, especially as it’s a Mars Attacks story too and obviously that means there needs to be a degree of apocalyptic destruction at the end. It might end up being a ‘What If?’, depending on how much I decide to blow everything up…
John McCrea has been doing amazing work on the ongoing Mars Attacks comics. Were you aware he was your artist when writing this and if so did you tailor the story towards his style at all? Also was it a collaborative process?
I popped a couple of things in with him in mind, but the nice thing about John is that he can draw just about anything, so I felt just as comfortable throwing him a juicy bit of noir to chew on as I did giving him some belly laughs. I was pretty confident throwing just about anything at him, which is kind of the opposite of collaborative in some ways as I’m basically saying “John! Draw this!” But the results have been fantastic, so it’s all worked out nicely. Between us, we’ve created a nice riff on the young, hardman Dredd of our childhoods – I’m reminded strongly of the very early Gibson Dredd, where he had stubble and struck cool hero-cop poses a lot. He’s pretty cool, really. Still a total bastard, of course.
I’d imagine the tone of this will be similar to Zombo, full of OTT violence and dark humour. How have you approached this mini series?
At this point, I can’t write Dredd without at least a bit of noir, so there are the usual sleazy clubs, corruption in the ranks and gangland rivalries – the kind of stuff I’ve been playing around with for a while now. But because the Martians are involved it’s all slightly twisted into slightly goofy territory, so there’s plenty of the kind of dark silliness Zombo fans will know and love.
That said – what Dredd and the Martians have in common is a pulp sensibility. Dredd’s straight out of the hard seventies, Death Race 2000 and Dirty Harry, and the Martians are fresh from the fifties drive-ins, so underneath that layer of goofy there’s another layer of solid punch to the gut. It makes for a fun comic.
As a Welshman and a fan of the movie I have to ask…. will we be seeing a Tom Jones block?
Not in the script, I don’t think, but ask John and there may still be time! Although at this point in the process it will be exploding.
After pairing up the worlds of Judge Dredd and Mars Attacks if you were given free reign to mix in any other comic property with a 2000AD one, which combo would you go for?
Dredd versus Captain America might be fun – I actually have a very soft spot for Cap, although I prefer the old Cap who was essentially a hippie on a motorcycle and spent his free time drawing comics in some kind of bohemian squat situation. I really love the idea of a superhero with a phone hotline so you can just call him when you need help and he’ll turn up in his van and fight Blue Streak. Anyway, these days you probably don’t need to call Cap, he’ll be listening to your phone already…
(Now I think about it, Marvel’s newest and most perfectly pastiched Dredd-a-like is a possible future descendant of Luke Cage, so I might be able to have a quasi-crossover with Mighty Avengers. He could even join the team! Although I think that might be legally ‘a bit cheeky’.)
As well as Mars Attacks coming out this week, next week sees the return of Damnation Station to the prog. Can you give us an idea what to expect there?
Grim stuff, as always! We’re out of the cold war phase and into the hot war – over the years the strip’s been away, Earth’s been getting ready to invade the galaxy next door, and the only person who knows what’s waiting for them over there is Joe Nowhere. Book Two might as well be called ‘the rise and fall of Joe Nowhere’, really.
And as well as all THAT, you also have Mighty Avengers launching this week with Greg Land on art. How are you finding the transition to the world of capes and tights?
Fun! I like superheroes. I honestly think there’s something genuinely worthwhile about them beyond the popcorn and escapism, and it’ll be nice to try and define what that something is. I’ll need to take a break from all that relentless optimism to have a good old root around in the muck with Dredd every so often, mind you.
I’ve read Superior Spider-Man is part of the team and the stand alone of that character always jumps to the top of my read pile when it gets released. Is the Spidey/Doc Ock combo as much fun to write as I’d imagine?
Yes! He’s a massive tosser. It’s great.
Last from me. Do you have any other cool stuff in the works and what is the best way for people to keep up with what you’re working on?
I do have more cool stuff in the works, which will probably be announced soon, or soon-ish. The best way to keep an eye on what I’m doing is to follow me on Twitter at @Al_Ewing or on Tumblr at alewing.tumblr.com – my Twitter feed is mostly hype of one form or another these days, so it’s a good way to get new developments.
And an additional one from Marhoa – “My first Al Ewing story was Choose yr own Xmas, how did he put that together? And: please never leave 2000ad! :-)”
Well, I was up against it for the Xmas story – they’re pretty difficult to write, especially as I felt I had to top the last couple of years – and I had the vague idea of making it a Choose Your Own Adventure, but it didn’t have the hook to it until I realised, in the shower, that I could have the story read both as a CYOA and normally, and doing it that way would give me the entire plot, because the only way that could work is if Dredd didn’t know he was in a CYOA and was just progressing normally, but the perp was jumping around. So from both their points of view, it would seem like something bizarre was going on. And from there it pretty much wrote itself – the Megazine story that year was much harder to make work, and it probably showed.
And no, I’ll never voluntarily leave 2000AD. It’s the Galaxy’s Greatest, after all.
Thanks again to Al for taking the time to answer these and also to Marhoa for sending the additional question.
Preview pic in the Q&A taken from Comic Book Resources 7 page advance look which you can check out in full HERE. Thanks to Dan Hunter for the heads up on that one. One day to go!
Rich is joined by Rebellion graphic novel editor Keith Richardson to answer questions from the forums and to discuss topics other than “When is Zenith coming out?”
Topics like “When is Zenith coming out in softcover?”
Podcast available via itunes or the Libsyn Webpage as a direct download
Music lifted from this, because it’s awesome
Hard to believe the channel now responsible for the worst shit on tv used to produce stuff this cool