2000AD 1700 interview #1 – Rob Williams

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.

To kick us off we have Rob Williams, writer of “Low Life”.

Your strip in prog 1700 is Low Life : A hostile takeover. While Low Life is a favourite with the 2000AD faithful (I recently read and loved the Mega City Undercover collection) it’s not as well known to outsiders as something like Judge Dredd or Rogue Trooper. How would you describe it?

Low Life is named after the worst, most rundown sector of Dredd’s Mega City 1 and the story follows the Wally Squad – the undercover Judges who work this phenomenally dangerous sector. The main two characters are Aimee Nixon – an amoral lier who somehow manages to just stay on the side of justice – and Dirty Frank – a seemingly mentally disturbed tramp-like figure who’s been on the streets too long.

Like all the strips in 1700, this is part one of a new story, but does use existing characters. Would you say it was accessible to new readers?

That’s a good question. It’s a standalone story with its own start-middle-end, so it should be accessible to new readers, but these are characters that have been playing in 2000AD for some years now. There’s no major exposition-filled introduction to them when we start Hostile Takeover. Maybe I could’ve recapped things a little more

Your artist on this is D’Israeli who has recently been working on Stickleback with Ian Edgington. How has it been working with him? Does your writing style change depending on your artist at all?

It’s one of those horrible PR cliches but it is genuinely a huge treat to work with D’isreali on this. I think, like Henry Flint, that he’s a bit of a mad genius, so having him create the world of my story – the insanely brilliant things he does with architecture, costume design etc are world class – is a real joy. Also, his storytelling never suffers for the detail. A lot of artists sacrifice clarity for detail but D’isreali’s always got the narrative as a priority, which is the comic artist’s first goal. Simply, I’m a big fan of his work, so him drawing my scripts is a joy. I don’t change my scripting for him as such, although with ‘Creation’, the last Low Life we did, I did push the visuals to extreme, trippy levels because I had such confidence on his ability to deliver them. I’d have been a little reticent to do so with some other artists.

You’ve been doing a lot of work for US publishers lately including working on Deadpool, The Punisher and RoboCop. What keeps you coming back to 2000AD?

I love 2000AD’s characters, I like the people who work for 2000AD – feeling like you’re part of a gang of talented people like Boo Cook, Dom Reardon, Al Ewing, Si Spurrier, PJ Holden etc, who are all supportive of each other’s work. I like working for Matt Smith, who’s always been a good editor to deal with and who is willing to employ me (important!). And it’s a joy to write stories for Mega City One. I’m a fan of the comic, so to write for it is a wonderful thing.

As someone who has written both Dredd and RoboCop how would you compare the two as they are both futuristic lawmen. Have you found any character similarities?

They’re remarkably unsimilar, actually, which sounds odd at first. Yes, they’re both futuristic lawmen with the “your move, creep” clipped vocabulary, and Dredd was plainly a very close influence on Robocop, but Joe Dredd is a clone grown for one purpose alone – to uphold the law – so there’s no real conflict there. He is the law etc. While Alex Murphy is dealing with the loss of his humanity, his family, the disfigurement of his body. They’re both cops, but very different ones.

This question is just for me, but as a Welsh guy it was very cool seeing Punisher kicking arse in the valleys in your “Get Castle” one shot. What prompted that, and is there any chance of sending Dredd over at some point to see if and how we survived the apocalypse? (Bearing in mind some parts of deepest darkest Wales are damn near Mad Max 2 levels already).

Cheers for the kind words on Get Castle. That was fun, bringing Frank Castle to Wales. I did once think about pitching a Dredd where he visits Wales. After all, Ennis brought him to Ireland, he’s visited Cal-Hab. But in the end, I couldn’t bring the enthusiasm for it, Maybe one day.

Lastly, what else have you got on the horizon and where can people check out more of your work.

I have a few things coming from Marvel – I’m one of the writers on the ONE MONTH TO LIVE mini-series, I have a Son Of Satan story in the TOMB OF TERROR horror anthology and a DEADPOOL TEAM-UP issue featuring Thor, which was amazing fun. Deadpool’s very similar to writing Dirty Frank actually. The comedy tone’s the same, for me. ROBOCOP’s continuing fron Dynamite, and I have a Dredd upcoming in the Megazine. There’s a few other things on the way that are very exciting but I can’t announce them yet. You can find out more at my blog www.robwilliamscomics.co.uk

Thanks Rob

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