GS Interview with Matt Smith editor of 2000AD

Taken from 2000ADonline

2000 AD is Britain’s cult sci-fi comic, and has been at the cutting edge of contemporary pop culture since 1977. It’s a multi-award winning cocktail of explosive sci-fi and fantasy, infused with a mean streak of irony and wry black humour. Imaginative, hard-hitting stories and eye-popping art have made 2000 AD essential reading for its legion of fiercely loyal fans for 25 years now.

2000 AD has been a proving ground for the finest young writers and artists of the generation, and many of the biggest names in comics today honed their skills within its pages. It has become synonymous with the very finest in comics art, and has won the Best British Comic award at the UK Comic Art Awards, National Comics Awards and Eagle Awards too many times to list.

So given all of that comic history it must be one hell of a job trying to keep the comic powerhouse 2000AD a float. So who better to give us an insight into the madness than the man at the helm, Matt Smith, the current Editor, Chief, Numero Uno, Top Dog, Big Cheese, Man About Town…you get the point.

Firstly let’s ask the biggie. How did you wind up as editor of the UK comic institution that is 2000 AD? What did it feel like when you found out?

I applied for the job of assistant editor in 2000. I’d been a desk editor for three years at book publishers Pan Macmillan and was thinking of moving on, when the assistant job came up. Previous editor David Bishop had left, Andy Diggle had stepped up to the editor’s role, and they were looking for an assistant. I’d
been reading the comic since 1985, so I thought I’d give it a go. I got the job, and then became editor eighteen months later when Andy left. It was a great feeling to become editor, a mix of nervousness and excitement. The comic and its heritage means a lot to me, so I don’t want to be the guy that screws it up!

2000AD has been around for decades. What do you think is it’s enduring appeal to generation after generation of comic fans?

An number of reasons. It’s always had a high quality threshold, so it’s had some the world’s best writers and artists working on it. It’s got some fantastic, iconic characters, and the wealth of imagination that’s gone into the stories over the past three decades is extraordinary. It’s always had a rebellious, irreverent edge to it. And its uniquely British – it’s never tried to follow trends or be anything other than a UK SF anthology title, which is what the readers want from it.

First ever issue published in 1977

Does the awesome history of 2000AD creators feel like a weight of expectation when it comes to working with new creators?

Certainly you try to nurture new writers to come up with the originality, grit and excitement of the best 2000 AD scribes, and similarly new artists’ work will be up against talented professionals who have been in the comic for the past twenty to thirty years. So the work has to be up to scratch. But it’s a learning curve, and new creators have to be given the time to develop the way their predecessors did. For many new creators, making their debut in 2000 AD is an intimidating prospect, but if they can rise to the challenge, then they’ve got what it takes to be regular contributors.

2000AD today

How much longer can Judge Dredd go on in your mind?

As long as John Wagner (the character’s co-creator) and other writers can come up with stories for him, then Dredd will endure. If Batman and Superman can still be going strong after fifty, sixty-odd years, then there’s no reason why Dredd shouldn’t.

The baddest lawman there is!

If Tharg could have ANYONE script and draw a 2000AD strip who would he have and what strip would it be (an established one like Dredd / Nikolai Dante) or a brand spanking new one?

Tharg doesn’t like to play favourites – his droids are all equal beneath his emerald eye – so he wouldn’t like to choose one story over another.

Any chance of getting Ian Gibson back to drawing Sam Slade?

If you mean the original Robo-Hunter, Ian probably would be up for drawing it, as long as it was the same creative team as before. But I think it’s generally felt that Sam Slade came to the end of his adventures back in the mid-80s.

Any chance of getting Alan Moore/Ian Gibson to finish Halo Jones?

Frankly, no. I think the chances of Alan writing for 2000 AD again are slim, to say the least.

Will ever see a big collection of ABC Warriors?

No plans as yet, though a hardback book collecting ‘The Volgan War’ series by Pat Mills and Clint Langley will be out next year, similar to the Slaine: Books of Invasions graphic novels.

Tons of British comic creators got their start in “2000 AD,” as well as a number of European creators. Have any Americans worked for the magazine? Is there much interest from American writers or artists?

There’s been the odd one or two. Paul Kupperberg wrote a series called ‘Trash’ back in the late 80s, Mike Fleisher got a lot of work writing Rogue Trooper, Junker and Harlem Heroes, and more recently the artist John Lucas drew ‘Valkyries’ and Vince Locke has drawn a few strips. There’s a reasonable amount of interest from US creators in working for 2000 AD, but they’re perhaps not used to working to the five-page weekly instalments, and I’m not often pitched anything that feels suitable for the comic.

The Complete Zenith? Who do I have to sleep with for the problems around reprinting one of 2000AD’s best strips to be sorted once and for all?

A lawyer, I’m afraid.

Are there any plans to collect the entire Slaine, the same as they are doing with Judge Dredd, Strontium Dog, Nemesis etc?

None as yet.

What advice would you give to anyone seeking to work for 2000AD ?

Read the guidelines. Look at the kind of material being published in the comic. Come up with original ideas. If you haven’t been published elsewhere, practise first in the small press, or self-publish.

Where would you like to see 2000AD in 5-10 years time?

With the comic and its books getting decent distribution in the USA (at the moment, it’s frustratingly spotty), a decent line of merchandising licenses behind it, and one or two movies/games out by then.

Thanks to Matt for taking the time to answer these questions.

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