2000AD 1700 interview #5 – Alec Worley

This week sees the release of 2000AD issue (or “prog” to the faithful) 1700.
As with previous issue 100’s this is down as a jumping on prog so every story is a part one, suitable for new readers looking to give 2000AD a try. To make the most of this I’ve nabbed a few quick Q&A’s with some of prog 1700′s contributors.

Todays victim participant, is author of brand new strip “Age of the Wolf” , Alec Worley

Your story in Prog 1700 is “Age of the Wolf” drawn by Jon Davis-Hunt. What can you tell us about it?

Well, in an attempt to make it sound as broadly appealing as possible, I’d say it’s a dark fantasy about a young woman trying to survive a supernatural apocalypse. You could also say it’s ‘I Am Legend’ with werewolves. Sort of.

It’s got awesome full colour artwork from Jon Davis-Hunt as well as monsters, motorcycles and (I’ll go out on a limb here) the kind of female lead I wouldn’t mind seeing more of in mainstream genre comics.

It’s also got snow. Loads of snow.

Prog 1700 is down as a “jumping on” issue that new readers can pick up without any prior knowledge but of all the strips, yours is the only brand new one not using existing characters. Do you think there is more pressure introducing new characters or using existing ones?

Way more pressure on writing an established character, I’d say. Going up against that weight of expectation must be pretty scary unless you’re naturally in synch with the character, the way Al Ewing is with Dredd, for example.

At least with a new character the reader doesn’t quite know what they’re in for…

This is your first ongoing story and prior to this your 2000 AD work had been on Future Shocks and Time Twisters, etc. For anyone reading this who is unfamiliar with 2000 AD can you tell us a little about what they are and how they compare writing-wise to a nine-parter?

Future Shocks, as they currently appear in 2000 AD, are one-off, self-contained, five-page stories with a twist in the tail. They appear every now and then, usually in the breaks between long-running stories. They have several different title headings each indicating a different genre – Future Shocks (sci-fi), Terror Tales (horror), Past Imperfect (alternative histories) and Time Twisters (time travel) – although readers often refer to these stories collectively as ‘Future Shocks’.  They’re usually drawn and written by newcomers and 2000 AD tradition has it that prospective writers and artists complete a Future Shock apprenticeship of around a dozen stories before taking on a series. (I think I’ve got that right…)

There are two Future Shock compilations available from Rebellion: The Complete Alan Moore Future Shocks (a must!) and The Best of Tharg’s Future Shocks.

I naively thought writing a series would be much easier than writing a one-off, as I’d have more room to explore ideas, characters and set-pieces. Ha! There’s NEVER enough room, which is where the ‘keep-it-tight’ Future Shock training comes in. No matter how many episodes you have, you still have to work super-hard on stopping ideas from sprawling all over the shop, as well as keeping the plot on the rails. As with all my one-and-dones, I benefited from the sage guidance of editor supreme Matt Smith, who kept Age of the Wolf from running away with the fairies on several occasions!

So…. 1700. A landmark issue. Stories by you, Robbie Morrison, Rob Williams, John Wagner and Pat Mills. I imagine this is a bit like the comic equivalent of being handed a guitar and being told you’re on with the Beatles. How does it feel going up with the 2000 AD big guns?
Apologies if this question has just brought on a panic attack… just breathe into the paper bag.

I didn’t know I was going to be in the milestone Prog when I wrote the scripts. I’m trying not to think about right now, if I’m honest.

People who haven’t actually read 2000 AD might be surprised that this strip seems to be more of a horror one and is set in 2016, so the world portrayed is the one they know as opposed to being all futuristic robots and space ships. Is this unusual for 2000 AD?

Not at all! That’s the great thing about a long-running anthology comic like 2000 AD, it’s always been about pushing genre boundaries and challenging expectations. There’s a massive back catalogue of stories offering something for everyone; not just sci-fi, but also horror, fantasy and everything in between. http://shop.2000adonline.com/categories/graphic_novels

Plus you’ve got regular writers and artists like Pat Mills, John Wagner and Carlos Ezquerra; these guys are among the best in the business! And just look at the wealth of talent that came to comics superstardom through 2000 AD: Alan Moore, Grant Morrison, Neil Gaiman, Mark Millar. As the saying goes, when it comes to comics, “everything comes back to 2000 AD”!

Jon, your artist on this, also works on the Transformers comic.  Did you know he would be the artist when you were writing this? If not, did anything change at all once you were teamed up?

It’s a little known fact that the D-Hunt bot is himself a transformer. I’ve seen footage in which he drops to his knees, bends his arms backwards and turns himself into a 2004 Vauxhall Corsa. Electric blue. Hatchback. Nice.

I believe his job is refuelling Optimus Prime using a special funnel and that his codename is ‘Shunt’. He doesn’t like talking about it.

I had no idea he’d be doing the artwork for Wolf and I was worried at first that he might have trouble holding a pen between his tyres or that he might insist on turning the heroine into a fire engine at some point.

Fortunately, he’s rather awesome at what he does is Jon and his enthusiasm never flags! He’s been feeding me artwork and designs throughout and we bounced ideas back and forth in terms of how best to tell the story. I wanted to employ some classic monster movie techniques along the lines of Jaws, Alien and Jurassic Park and Jon came up with stuff that was what I was after but far more original. He’s pretty much gone overboard on this project and you’ll see some truly breathtaking artwork before this series ends, I promise.

Why IS Aquaman so crap?

Hmph! Foolish land-dweller. Soon you shall taste the briny wrath of the A-man!

And lastly, can you tell us anything else you have on the horizon and also let people know where they can check out more of your work?

I’ve got plenty more coming out in 2000 AD. I’ve got another Future Shock in the pipeline called ‘MyHeaven®’, which is set in a world where people can create their own designer afterlife.

I’ve also just finished a five-part series for artist Warren Pleece, which should be coming out just before Christmas. We’re bringing back a character called Dandridge, the dandy ghosthunter who starred (and died) in a Past Imperfect we did a while back (‘Antiquus Phantasma’ Prog 1631). This new series is a ‘spookpunk’ adventure story that picks up in an alternative 1981.

One day I may even write a story that doesn’t involve dead people!

I’ll also be attending New York Comic Con and BICS and will arrive on a giant seahorse. Saucy.

Cheers Alec!

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