Karl Richardson’s Grey Area cover for this week’s prog.
Next in Prog 2012 is a new thrill - Grey Area:
Grey Area is the latest thrill from writer Dan Abnett. Illustrated by Karl Richardson, this SF thriller is a what-happens-long-after-first-contact tale set in America, where the challenge of living in an interstellar community doesn’t exactly work out all Star Trek…
And with just DAYS to go till Prog 2012 hits newsstands this Wednesday and, as we continue our 12 Days of Thargmas, 2000adonline.com’s Ed Kaye talked to Dan Abnett and Karl Richardson about their forthcoming thrill!
2000 AD: Grey Area is a brand new Thrill, what sort of story is it, and what can fans expect?
Dan: It’s a tough, action-based procedural about the immigration officers who patrol Earth’s borders, and - in particular - police the Grey Area, which is a purpose built city where all extraterrestrial visitors are obliged to live while their entry visas are processed. It’s a classic 2000 AD strip - action, aliens, big ideas, strong characters, a little humour and a splash of satire.
2000 AD: Karl, what approach did you take to drawing this new story?
Karl: I’d already got quite a few drawings and sketches for an idea I’d proposed to Dan earlier. Although my original idea was more military orientated, I had a good starting point and it didn’t take too much tweaking for the uniforms, and some of the aliens, to fit the new storyline. I actually toyed with the idea of radically changing my style, or even just painting it digitally, like I do for most of the covers I do, but I soon came to my senses.
2000 AD: What was your favourite thing to write or illustrate on this story?
Dan: Earth protects its borders very tightly because of a disastrous first contact incident a few years back, when aliens with benign intentions accidentally infected part of the human race with a nano-virus simply by setting foot on the planet. Those affected by the virus are known as The Gifted, and they are the subject of extreme prejudice. One of our team - Kymn - is a Greeted. The nanites in his blood mean that his brain is rewired to instantly speak and understand other languages… he’s really vital to the team, but most humans try to avoid him.
Karl: It probably sounds a bit of a cop out answer, but when you get the chance to design and draw characters for a new story it’s all pretty much fun. Any aliens are always cool to draw, and until this point I hadn’t really had the opportunity to draw any for 2000 AD, so I was looking forward to it. Amongst the human characters, I probably enjoyed drawing Captain Janzen the most - he’s a grizzled man mountain, “seen it, done it” archetype.
Tharg is filling our stockings with festive treats and here is the cover to Prog 2012 - the end-of-year special designed to fill the gap while Tharg has the droids broken down for annual sandblasting and it also serves as a jumping-on point for new readers, as all the new stories next year start here - there has never been a better time for getting thrillpowered. So what’s in it?
On sale for three weeks from 14 December, this Earth-shattering Thrill-powered compendium of awesomeness is the perfect antidote to your anodyne Yule or the horror of another slab of mother’s Christmas cake.
What awaits you in this momentous publication? Observe:
JUDGE DREDD: CHOOSE YOUR OWN CHRISTMAS by Al Ewing & John Higgins
NIKOLAI DANTE: THE WEDDING OF JENA MAKAROV by Robbie Morrison & Simon Fraser
GREY AREA: MEET AND GREET by Dan Abnett & Karl Richardson
ABSALOM: SICK LEAVE by Gordon Rennie & Tiernen Trevallion
SINISTER DEXTER: NOW AND AGAIN by Dan Abnett & Anthony Williams
DANDRIDGE: A CHRISTMAS GHOST STORY by Alec Worley & Jon Davis-Hunt
AQUILA: PROLOGUE by Gordon Rennie & Leigh Gallagher
And all capped by this gorgeous cover from Greg Staples! Truly, with this festive treat Tharg shows that he is indeed Mighty and Benevolent!
World of Superheroes have got an interview with Tharg’s chief minion, Matt Smith, who includes some news on upcoming series:
Anthology comics have been around for years but few have had the freedom to go where 2000AD have. “It’s a true independent,” he explains which frees you up quite bit in over all terms, “This allows for a wide variety of art styles and genres – you can find a mix of SF, fantasy and horror in any one issue, so allows for a lot more freedom, creatively. It’s a violent, gritty comic without a superhero in sight, and not tied to any toy license.” Smith adds that there are not just simply storytelling differences; value and style is also paramount to 2000AD. “(There’s) variety, innovation, irreverence, violence and satire. Plus 32 pages of comics every week for £2.25 is pretty good value compared to what you pay for a 22-page US comic.”
As you can imagine, with 35 years of experience and no sign of slowing, this alone should tick all the boxes but Smith comes back at me with even more. “By getting some of the best writers and artists in the business to come up with some of the most exciting stories 2000AD is a true independent, so doesn’t need to tie itself to a franchise – whether it’s an SF thriller as in Grey Area by Dan Abnett and Karl Richardson, or a surreal fantasy saga as in The Zaucer of Zilk by Al Ewing and Brendan McCarthy (to name just two new series coming soon), we’re just looking for interesting, original stories that readers will enjoy.” The influx of talent and showcasing of original stories is growing, rather than slowing. With a format that has always succeeded there’s never been any need to change.
Being a weekly that is in tune with the market it comes as no surprise that Smith and his team are aware of the shift from print to digital, with the latter becoming increasing popular. “We currently make each issue available as a digital download a week after the print edition has gone on sale.” But Smith also acknowledges the importance of local comic book stores, newsagents and news stands were the original merchants. “We want to keep our place on the news stand, as I believe that there will always be a market for printed comics.”
2000AD has an extensive back catalogue. Many of who we consider the great writers and artists of our generation. Successful icons such as Dave Gibbons, Mark Millar, Alan Moore and Garth Ennis all wrote progs for the weekly. Have no worries about their works being made available digitally either; 2000AD has already started with the releases. “You can already buy digital versions of collections like Judge Dredd Case Files 1 (which features the early work of Brian Bolland, Ian Gibson, Mick McMahon, John Wagner and Pat Mills), The V.C.s (featuring Cam Kennedy and Garry Leach) and ABC Warriors (featuring Kev Walker) from www.2000ADonline.com.” Smith assures me.
2000AD must have high hopes for this movie as it could lead the way in adaptations for a whole host of other interesting characters. “There’s been plenty of interest from movie people in other characters, but nothing I can reveal at the moment. Sláine, Rogue and Strontium Dog would indeed make killer movies.”
Smith also concludes with a few words of wisdom from The Mighty One himself, as Tharg would never be one to leave us without imparting a valuable nugget of his vast intellect. “Try Thrill-power. Once tasted, you won’t be able to get enough!”