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Tuesday, 14 February 2012

Happy Birthday, 2000AD! From art droid Smuzz

An unpublished panel from the 'tryout' strip Smuzz did for ABC Warriors

Name: Smuzz
 

('Sms' is soooo Last Millenium)

Website: www.smuzz.org.uk

Currently working on:


Crucible with comics Guru John Freeman and coloured by Kris Carter.  To be published in the new Strip comic magazine (available in all good comics shops now), as from Issue 7, on sae in late May 2012.

Superficially a 'Sword and sorcery' strip but - since both John and I dislike the S&S genre - it's actually a covert way to sneak in a proper SF story about cargo cultures, PROPER aliens and massive engineering projects.

Oh dear. Now I've told you that, I have to kill your computer ...

First memory of 2000AD?

Looking at the comic in the newasagent with the word 'Flesh' on the cover and wondering "How can a comic for kids have a strip about 'Alien sex-slaves?' " ... I was high on teenage hormones at the time.

Favourite Character or Story?

It's a cliche to mention Judge Dredd, but the Dredd strips do have the advantage of having single-episode stories you can pick up and put down in one issue without having to remiond yourself what the story-arc is.

As an older reader, I keep falling into the trap of saving a story until it's finished before reading the whole thing... this isn't the proper 'Comic' experience and I should know better.

Shakara, 'coz it's like Nemesis used to feel, but even more Tekky, Alien and Relentlessly Inhuman.

Nikolai Dante 'coz it has wit, lovely art, a credible and coherent Universe and the story arc feels like a natural evolution of the character.

Halo Jones  and Skizz. It might be summatt to do with the writing ...

What do you like most about 2000AD?

That there's a proper comic on the shelves of small newsagents which kids (Not comics cognoscenti) can see without going into a specialist shop. Something they can take down, flick through and learn that there's more to their culture than Sky, The Sun and Zoo and that comics do not have to incorporate a TV or toy spinoff.

This - more than any single story or element of 2000AD's history - is vital to the health of our Nation and the future of our Yoof.

Seriously.

Never mind the 'Punk' trappings of '77 - this is the most 'Anti-Establishment' thing about 2000AD, and it's genuine.

A big part of this is that it's not owned by a massive multinational. Plainly, the owners have an idea of what they own and are doihng the best they can for it.

Thanks for that.

What would you most like to see in 2000AD as it heads to its Forties?

Satire.

It's where it started and it's mostly missing from all but the Dredd strips.

In a world in which the worst nightmares of the early 2000AD (A comic for kids!!) are on the daily TV News (Or worse - buried and only available on papers like the Guardian or alternative Net sources), 2000AD's still obsessed with guns and the ever-arch 'English Eccentric' hero.

Bring back satire.

- And employ me (And John) to do it.

An unpublished panel from the 'tryout' strip Smuzz did for ABC Warriors

If you worked on 2000AD, do you have an anecdote you'd like to share about your experience of Tharg and his minions?

When working on ABC Warriors: The Black Hole, I'd just bought a house and the Council Improvement Grant kicked in at exactly the same time as the ABC Warriors job came up. Since I was doing part of the building work myself, I was working in a house with no electricity. No bathroom/toilet facilities and no back wall.

The very helpful Steve MacManus commented that the Letratone (Stikky back plastic with tone on it. Ask yer dad) was mysteriously lifting off my artwork "As if it was really old". In fact, the tone was shop-new but the brickdust in the air was getting under the stikky-back plastic.

I didn't dare tell anyone this (Not even ever-helpful and supportive Pat Mills), as I was afraid they'd take me off the job. Instead, I started applying Letratone in the garden, when it wasn't raining.

Meantime:

Chief editor Richard Burton delayed and withheld my scripts "To teach Pat (Mills) who the editor is" (This is a common story amongst Pat Mills artists, aside from Simon Bisley). Steve tried - and failed - to get the last two episodes to me, as requested by Pat.

Years later, Burt was still telling writers I'd "Turned their scripts down". Apologies to the writers I'd "Turned down". I was never offered 'em.

Thanks Steve, for your help at a difficult time. Appreciated. Decent chap.

• This post is one in a series of tributes to 2000AD to mark its 35th birthday on 26th February 2012. More about 2000AD at www.2000adonline.com

2000AD © Rebellion

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