Dave Heeley will be appearing on Episode 339 of Science Fiction podcast Mark WHO 42 to talk about a new horror comic.
“Who inspires editor Dave Heeley? Which comic books and movies from his youth still shape his projects? How did his sister, Jo Heeley, find her own voice, and what fuels her imagination? What is it like working with so many creative people and do they have favorites? Where can we join the Kickstarter campaign?”
Listen to the latest episode of MarkWHO42’s Universe as Mark Baumgarten and Vicky Jakubowski chat with the dynamic duo Jo and Dave Heeley on their current project : This Comic Is Haunted
This comic is Haunted is the latest comic from the 77-publishing company. Following on from the success of The77, Blazer and Pandora we are now launching a 36-page Horror anthology in the vein of Scream and the incredible Warren and EC comics of yesteryear.
What is your role ?
This comic is Haunted is my baby. I came up with the idea and I’ve curated the stories within and written one of the stories. I’m ably assisted by the incredible art editor Andrew Richmond who has been instrumental in achieving the look of the comic.
Will it be ongoing ?
Yes, 100% but only if people buy it! The77 publishing use a Kickstarter format, so we need to realise that target first! ( which we will) We fully intend to publish 2 issues a year, and if very popular perhaps more.
Are horror comics popular ?
I think they certainly are. Something is killing the children and Harrow county both sell an incredible amount of comics. There is a distinct lack of ongoing Horror comics in the U.K though, and we fully intend to change that.
Are the stories stand alone or ongoing ?
This comic is Haunted will always contain a mix of both ongoing and stand-alone stories. For example, in issue 1 we have 3 ongoing stories and 3 one-shot strips.
What other comics or media were an influence ?
I’m a huge fan of the genre. Pretty much everything has influenced me, from The Exorcist to Salem’s Lot. In terms of comics that have played a part in the creation of TCIH: Scream, The Vault of Horror, Tales from the Crypt and The Walking Dead are huge influences.
What comic artists or writers were an influence ?
Alan Grants work on the 13TH Floor for Scream, Steve Niles for his 30 days of Night, Cullen Bunn on Harrow County and a host of creators from the 50’s such as Harvey Kurtzman, Al Feldstein and Johnny Craig and Roy Thomas and Gene Colan.
Who are the writers and artists ?
We really are blessed with an incredible line up of creators, We have the legendary Alan Hebden and Lee Milmore on The Drummer from Hell, Bambos Georgiou and Gary Burley on Hill of the Dead, Jo Heeley and Ian Stopforth working on The Lodger, Dr Catherine Wild and Andrew Richmond on Tina’s party, the incredible Lew Stringer will also be providing comic relief with Short, Sharp Shocks and I have written The Bones of Winter which is drawn by Mark Maren. There is a wide array of both styles and Horror sub-genres in there from Ghosts to Zombies and even a touch of magical Folk horror.
When did you have the idea for a horror comic ?
I’ve ALWAYS wanted to do something like this. From when I was a kid I would write little horror stories, now with the success of the77 I’ve been able to achieve my dream.
Do you think horror is an under rated genre ?
I don’t think it’s underrated at all; I do feel there is a certain snobbishness from some people towards it though. Some of the finest novels and films have been from the horror genre but sadly some people prefer not to expand their tastes and horizons.
Who should buy this book ?
Anyone who loves well crafted and beautifully drawn comics will love this. We are aiming for a “15 certificate” rather than a “video nasty” I’m a fan of all horror but I think a sense of dread can be as effective as a bucket of blood. That being said there’s room for all sorts of stories in TCIH but we probably won’t be banned by the authorities!
What have you learned since starting this comic ?
Time management, editing is all about spinning multiple plates at once and making sure none of them come crashing down! Also, that as with our other comics real life gets in the way and to be cognisant of that when planning deadlines.
Will it be Colour or Black and White ?
Both, I’m a huge fan of B&W horror so I couldn’t pass up the chance of including it within!
What did you learn on the77 that helps with Haunted ?
The beauty of the77 is that it’s a cooperative and as such I have a huge amount of contacts I can turn to for advice. Ben Cullis and my sister Jo have helped greatly with the actual setting up of the Kickstarter.
What are your favourite horror comics, books, and movies?
Ah jeez, that’s tough. Favourite Horror novel, The Stand hands down, although I have a huge affection for the gorier horror authors such as James Herbert and Shaun Hutson. Comics? this one!! Seriously though I love Tomb of Dracula, I often go back to read them again. The Gene Colan art is sublime.
Will Haunted be printed or digital or both ?
Both, there will be digital copies available as well as physical. In fact, we have 2 covers. Our main cover is by the Incredible Ian Stopforth and our Variant is by renowned artist Alex Ronald.
What sub-genres of Horror will it feature (e.g., slasher, splatter punk, ghost story)? I hope to feature every sub-genre over time. I know exactly what is going in the first 5 issues and I can safely say that there is a myriad of styles to suit all tastes within.
Was The 1980’s UK comic Scream an influence ?
Hugely, I think it was for so many people. The fact it didn’t run for long has meant it left a lasting influence on British comics fans.
Will it be in Newsagents ?
Initially no, but as with the77 the long-term plan is to be in newsagents countrywide.
What is planned for upcoming issues ?
More high-quality horror, with many big names from the U.K comics industry lined up to do stories.
Jo Heeley and Andrew Richmond will be appearing on the on episode 327 Science Fiction podcast Mark WHO 42 to talk about the new comic Pandora.
“The77 Publications presents the latest and greatest brand new comic anthology – Pandora. What inspired Jo Heeley to take this leap of faith? Is Penny Pentagram joining in on the fun? Does Andrew Richmond really create one sketch a day? Find out as Mark Baumgarten and Vicky Jakubowski fall down the rabbit hole with Jo and Andrew of Pandora.”
MarkWHO42’s Universe started out as a Doctor Who podcast in 2012, hosted by Mark Baumgarten and cohosts Eduardo M. Freyre and, his now wife, Trish. Over the years they have had over 125 celebrity interviews and were on Internet radio for 4 years. Now on ODYSY Radio, with the addition of cohost Zion Quiros and Juan Sanmiguel, Markwho42 covers all topics in the world of science fiction!
“Started drawing at age 1 and a half apparently…my mum said I was so noisy she was in despair so as a last resort she stuck some crayons in my hand and thankfully I went silent! 🤣”
“I have a degree in fine art but comic work lured me back. I’m self taught as pretty much all comic artists are I think. Most notable title I’ve worked on would be 2000AD.”
“It’s drawn in pencil then scanned into clip studio paint.”
“The cover was actually finished before Meatloaf died. It was intended initially as a tribute to the late great Richard Corben, the artist who created the original album cover. It seemed a perfect way to honour his contribution to art as well as convey something of the mood of Black Dog Lane.
“Well this may sound strange but the music’s not exactly my thing though I can’t help but like the title track. My taste is more along the lines of Led Zep and Rival Sons…a sort of southern rock, fusion but who didn’t appreciate the sheer originality and power of Meatloaf? Of course now that the man himself has passed on to the great gig in the sky I will be adding his name in tribute to the front cover. “
“The story is called Black Dog Lane. It stars Wolf, a seventies bodyguard to rockstars who is torn away form his world and his newly found love and thrown into a possible future earth. This world has been ravaged by the prolonged effects of climate change and the continued degradation of society by unsustainable and destructive socioeconomic systems. Extreme body augmentations and monstrous Frankensteinian creations abound in a world gone mad, teetering on the brink of self destruction. Our man Longehan Wolf becomes this reluctant Black Dog spirit or tool of karma. He travels the world and much like the Black Dogs from European and British legend he ends up dispensing justice for the lost souls running wild in the world of Black Dog Lane. Music is a big part of the main protagonist’s makeup and we hope to inject some of that energy into the series. Classic rock tunes will make up the soundtrack to the story.”
I’m pretty happy with the cover though I am a terrible self critic. I think it has the right balance of humour and supernatural power that we hope will be evident in Black Dog Lane. Having said that, nothing I finish is ever as good as I wanted it to be. I’m always ..chasing that impossible perfect creation …so …no I’m not happy with it 😉
The77 comic was launched by The77 Publications in May 2020 as an oversized British anthology comic and has self-funded and published six editions, each having been crowdfunded. Voted second favourite comic (only behind 2000AD) in the 2020 ComicScene Poll it has attracted a loyal following.who during lockdown used Zoom, Facebook and Twitter to participate in launch events, submit scripts and art, of which several of which have since been commissioned and published. The77 Annual is a step up that required more funding to produce a limited edition classically styled 144 page hardback, (which was an exclusive crowdfunding reward) and the 136 page softback retail edition, which is on sale from 15th November.
As well as over a dozen strips, The77 Annual has features on the history of The77, its cover art, text stories, a ‘spot the difference’ puzzle, a board game, and two colouring-in and ‘cut out and keep’ activities – all which add to the retro feel of British annuals from the past. The publishers were keen on producing an ‘all-ages’ book but advise that some content is 12+.
Cover art, Mark Montague Contributors: Glenn Fabry (Preacher/Aliens vs Predator), PJ Holden (Judge Dredd/MurderDrome), Lew Stringer (Beano/Combat Colin), Stephen Pugh (Hellblazer/Harley Quinn) among the professional talent and breaking artists and writers from The77 stable: Ade Hughes, Andrw Sawyers, Ian Stopforth, Ben Macleod, Brendon Wright, Peter Western, Damian Edwardson, Kish Williams, Toyin Morby Ajetunmobi, Antonio Gonclaves, Morgan Gleave, Andrew Richmond and Drew Marr, (a 12 year publisher of Gold Lion books. Scripts by: Steve Bull, Dave Heeley, Jo Heeley, Dave Bedford, Ben Cullis. Paul Neal, Christoff Rodriguez, Anna Everts, John Charles and Mamode Obegwele.
Other publications: Blazer 1, by Steve MacManus (pub April 2021) #2 Jan 2022. Pandora, (pub Mar 2022), Haunted (pub Oct 2022).
The process behind Andrew Sawyers finished cover for The77 issue 5
“I use Canson Bristol Board ‘Comic Art Paper’ – Rotring Artist Pens, Pilot Parallel and Fude Brush Pens, drawn initially in Staedtler Blue Line pencils, and then redrawn using any propellant pencil, I’m not fussed, whilst I prefer softer pencils such as a 2B It smudges !!!
I then color using markers, and often using an old toy spraying on the markers !!!
There’s a little paint in there, chalk, acrylic and water colour and soft pencil work and white pens which you can spray over using markers to colourize !!!”
V: Created by Steve Bull and Ade Hughes (Pat Mills’ Space Warp)
Trackless Depths: Created by Dave Bedford (Tempered Curse, Trompe la Morte) and Mac (2000AD)
Extinction 2040: NEW SERIES! Created by Paul Goodenough and Ian Stopforth (debut)
Undertow: Created by Joe and Jeremy Dunn
The Cell: Created by Bambos Georgiou (Marvel) and Andrw Sawyers
Penny Pentagram: Created by David Thomas and Jon Roydon
Division’77: Created by Dave Heeley and Sinclair Elliott. Artwork by Gary Burley (debut)
I know the Secret of the Alien: Created by Michael Powell (The Last Man and Matilda Atkins)and Mike Collins (2000AD, Doctor Who, Marvel)
Martian Law: Created by Brendan Wright (The Tinkling Triangles by Steve MacManus)
SGT. Shouty of the Moon Force!: Created by Lew Stringer (Beano, Tom Thug, Brickman, Combat Colin)
Red by Night, Black by Day: NEW SERIES! Created by Jo Heeley (debut) and Rupert Lewis Jones (Demon for Dinner by Jim Tomlinson) Recommendations:
“The77 looks amazing!” – Henry Flint
“It’s a tremendous achievement” – John Wagner
“The77 gets it right!” – John Higgins Reviews:
“A high quality comic, with plenty of variety and great production values”
There’s some good stuff out there and this is one of the best… British comics anthology only gets better.
“Three issues under it’s belt…and looking set for even greater things in 2021!” –
Dave Bedford: is a Director of The77 Publications and The77s Twitter persona plus writer. His previous scripts include The Tempered Curse and Trompe La Morte. He’s currently writing a war story for The77 Annual and a new series ‘Memento Mori’ with Morgan Gleave. Dave’s stories are influenced by old horror comics, history, and folklore. Outside The77, Dave spends his time working for the public sector, reading comics (esp. John Byrne and Jack Kirby), and playing Minecraft (badly) with his daughter Honey.
Steve Bull: As a Writer I surround myself with insanely talented people because they make you look good. At The77 I’m proud to be a Co-Creator, Sub editor and Art Director. I also enjoy sitting in the Crows nest looking for icebergs. I once sang in front of the Queen Mum and gave Pele a cuddle. *Not at the same time
Gary Burley: has been honing his craft for three decades and has relished his chance to work on one of The77’s favourite strips; Division’77. He debuts in issue #5 and is going to make a huge impact with his beautiful and intricately observed line-work.
Mike Collins: has worked in comics, TV and animation for over 30 years: at Marvel and DC he’s drawn all the Big Guns; on Doctor Who he’s written and drawn adventures in Comics, Games, animation and storyboarding the TV show. He still regards 2000AD as Home, and contributes to the Prog when he can (there’s a cracker of a 3riller coming up, written by James Peaty)
Ben Conan Cullis: My first creation, SkAte Worm, was published in the cult zine, SM5D in 1986. Then followed a ten year film and video-making stint. After a 25 year creative hiatus and as the COVID pandemic struck, The77 was launched.
Now five editions in and ‘Blazer!’ under our belts, we aim to release three more titles in the coming year.
I’m currently rocking the lockdown look, with a similar hairstyle from 1977.
Jeremy Dunn: Artist on Undertow, written by my son Joe. 1977 was as important a year for me as so many others, bringing both Star Wars and 2000AD. Around this time I decided that I’d like to be a comic artist, since Colonial Viper Pilot wasn’t realistic. I’m now a Learning Experience Studio Manager at the RNLI, running a team producing training resources for Lifeboat crew, Lifeguards and staff.
Filippo: Artist, Letterer and Colourist, has worked on various strips for The 77, Blazer, Paragon and Dogbreath. As a young child in the early 70s, I fell into the amazing world of British comics and never left
Bambos Georgiou: Entered the comics field in the 80s with scripts for WHIZZER & CHIPS, STARBLAZER, HE-MAN and SHE-RA comics. Founded ACME Press. Freelance work for Marvel UK, IPC Deadline, A1, DC Comics, Marvel US, Titan Books, The Sun and DC Thomson. Co-founded ACES WEEKLY with David Lloyd in 2011. Apart from THE 77 currently working on DOCTOR STRANGEGLOVE & MISTER CUSTA for ACES WEEKLY and inking adult horror comic strips for SCAR.
I guess it’s too late to get a “proper job”.
Morgan Gleave: Sometimes Morgan writes and draws his own comics and stories, and sometimes he draws stories written for other comics. Morgan loves comics and cartoons, especially those with bold artwork and colours. He loves skateboarding too.
Morgan often wears his favourite trucker caps and tee shirts, but has been known to wear a shirt and tie on occasion… He has also created artwork for skateboard companies and publications. He does love skateboarding…
He is currently developing a child friendly skateboarding magazine, which encourages positive attitudes, inclusivity and mutual respect. Morgan is always happy to discuss new projects, and help people who want happy, bright and colourful art.
The77 work includes: Tempered Curse, SkAte Worm and Memento Mori.
Paul Goodenough: Debuts with ‘Extinction 2040 with Ian Stopforth in issue 5.
Hailing from a digital and entrepreneurial background, Paul founded production company, GBK Hybrid, with Gary Kurtz (Star Wars, Dark Crystal) and Richard Bazley (Iron Giant, Hercules) where he works as a development executive, writer and executive producer. Paul works on both sides of the Atlantic as both a writer and producer, and his first feature film – The Chimeran – combines his love of hard hitting, gripping dramatic propositions and fact-based science fiction.
Paul also sits on a sustainable broadcast consortium at BAFTA as well as being a leading figure, inventor and innovator in the digital world through another of his businesses Aerian Studios.
IMDb Mini Biography By: GBK Hybrid
Paul Goodenough has a few words to say about Extinction 2040 here:
Dave Heeley: resides near the Rad wastes of Birmingham and in between home-schooling and work, writes Division 77, GRID and Silver Jubilee for the77 comic and the upcoming story Filth and the Furry for the77 Annual.
He actively campaigns for an extra hour in the day and spends his spare time sampling I.P.A beers and binge-watching Spaghetti Westerns. Big Dave
Jo Heeley is a lifelong comic fan and has written her first comic strip for The77 after working on the title since its inception. She will be helming another new comic coming from The77 Publishing, scheduled for release in March 2022, called “Pandora”.
An illustrator and sculptor in her own right, Jo uses clay and mixed materials to construct her art but her main weapon of choice is now wool and using a single needle, creates amazing wool felt sculptures and dioramas influenced by film, comics and books from her childhood.
As a proud Black Country woman, “Red by Night, Black by Day” is her love song to her home town in the industrial heartland, taking fantasy and occult themes, interweaving them with the rich history of the West Midlands.
Ade Hughes: Raised by hamsters until the age of 11, escaped to the theatre to pursue A lifelong dream of becoming a curtain operator. These dreams were cruelly snatched away in an horrific hoola-hoop accident. After extensive reconstructive surgery I decided to head for pastures new. A life on the ocean wave was the order of the day, and I followed my new calling as a row boat attendant during office hours and a costumed vigilante by night. After many successful years in the Pond Vessel/Superhero business I was awarded the Order of The Sponge Finger by a grateful public & retired to a small coffee shop in the Cotswolds, where I spend my days reading poetry, crocheting and being a general Dandy in the style of Byron or Shelley. All I ever wanted to do was to fiddle with thespian drapery, funny how life turns out.
Rupert Lewis Jones is a freelance artist working in film, TV, animation and games. As an artist, Rupert believes in developing his art style around the needs of each unique project, seeking to continually develop his creative skills. Having made his debut in issue 4, Rupert now returns to The77 as the artist for Red By Night Black By Day.
Ben Macleod: I often refer to myself as a Star Wars baby. I was at the right age, 6 years old, to catch the first movie and this has indelibly left its mark. In my opinion the storm-trooper is one of the best pieces of sci-fi design of all time. In comics , Akira, Dark Knight Returns, Marshal Law, Slaine The Horned God, Hellboy, anything drawn by Kev O’Neill or painted by Simon Stalenhag are all winners for me.
Quite a few years ago now, I made the difficult decision to set my artistic aspirations in order to help run the family business. The 77 has enabled me to reignite my earlier artistic ambition. I’m very happy to be involved and excited to have the opportunity to bring some of my shelved projects back into the light of publication. I’ll be bringing one of them to the77 (should be issue7). It’s called Black Dog Lane and its an occasionally humorous, sci-fi romp.
So I get to play out my own Star Wars creator dream. Happy days!
Annie Parkhouse: I began working in comics in 1970 on Lion comic at IPC. There I was preparing pages for printing, making lettering corrections and cleaning up the artwork. Two years later I went freelance, lettering full time.
As well as Rebellion, I have worked for DC, Dark Horse, Marvel UK and US and Warrior amongst many other publications. I live in Carlisle with my husband Steve.
Michael Powell: is a writer and comic journalist. His strips ‘Matilda Atkins’, ‘The Last Man’ and ‘I know the secret of the Alien’ have all appeared in The77. Mike wrote the book ‘Circus DeNiro’, illustrated by indie comics legend Phil Elliot which was published last year. Mike has also worked with Lew Stringer, Paul Grist and Mike Collins. He is currently writing Monkey: Irrepressible’ with artwork by Gavin Pollock and the new graphic novel ‘Starcrossed’ illustrated by Phil Elliott. Mike has written for ComicScene and writes a weekly review column for Pipedream Comics. He also runs the popular Facebook group “Why I Love Comics”.
Jon Roydon: Finally picking up the pencil in 2014, he’s since been furiously pursuing his life-long dream of visual storytelling. Franco-Belgian comics, manga, and many forms of animation influence his characters and worlds. He’s been the artist on Webtoon’s “The Lost Graveyard”, The77’s “Penny Pentagram” and is soon to be published on Macroverse. Currently you can keep up to date on Instagram @JonRoydonART.
Andrw Sawyers: ‘They don’t make no seatbelt for the mind !!! So you can’t fasten up for this ride …’
Illustrator on The Cell and Silver Jubilee making his debut in issue two of The ‘77 !!! He produced the album art for the Aggros (Cro Mags) and Vertical Noise. Originator of the Cyco Vision™ color STyle, coffee drinker, hardcore punk ‘Drokktober’ veteran !!!
‘You come to see me ‘bout comics ? That practically makes us family !!!’
Neil Sims; Since its launch, his unique style and vision has been widely evident in every issue of The77. His character designs for Filthy Luca which kicked of issue 1, the Benksy cover for #2 and his SkAte Worm for #3 have won him plaudits and commissions. Neil is adept at any artist endeavour he turns his attention to – be it sculpting ROK for John Wagner (see below), diorama and bust commissions for customers around the world, as well as his tattoo designs and comic art.
Darren Stephens: Based in Portsmouth, Darren has been a comic artist and colourist on and off for around 20 years and his work has appeared in 2000AD, Sonic the comic, Red Dwarf Smegazine and more recently the Phoenix comic, as well The77.
Ian Stopforth: I have been fascinated with art since I can remember. In my early school years I craved the time and opportunity to draw and this need to doodle constantly has never left me. My love of art was ramped up in the mid 80s, when I discovered 2000ad and Judge Dredd. I was in total awe of Brett Ewins, Mike McMahon, Ian Gibson, Brian Bolland, the list went on and on. For me, it was inspiring to see art with a purpose in telling a story whilst producing breath-taking imagery within a sprawling dystopian Mega City.
In the late 80s as a teenager I discovered Stray Toasters, Black Orchid and Batman: The Dark Knight Returns. I was captivated by the layers and textures of Bill Sienkiewicz, Dave McKean and the expressive imagery of Frank Miller, Klaus Janson and Lynn Varley. These stories opened Pandora’s Box for me and I became much more interested in the layers and textures of the both the story telling and the imagery and this ironically led me away from comics to pursue a fine art and painting degree.
The older I get the more I’ve realised that Art interests me very much indeed, but the alchemy and joy of making pictures interests me far, far more, and I feel blessed to be working with Paul Goodenough, BOLT-01 and all the creative team at The77.
Lew Stringer: I work as a professional humour comics artist and writer and have been freelancing full time since 1984, creating many characters such as TOM THUG, PETE AND HIS PIMPLE, COMBAT COLIN, BRICKMAN, ROBO-CAPERS, DEREK THE TROLL, SUBURBAN SATANISTS and now SGT. SHOUTY!
I’ve freelanced for IPC, Marvel Comics, Egmont, Panini, D.C. Thomson, and many others, covering the comics field from originated characters to licensed properties, pre-school to adult on comics such as BUSTER, OINK!, BEANO, DANDY, TRANSFORMERS, SONIC THE COMIC, TOXIC, VIZ, CiTV, THE MIGHTY WORLD OF MARVEL, and many more.
David Thomas: is the writer and creator of Penny Pentagram. His work has been published in the UK, USA and Japan. He also paints and writes screenplays. He is also working on his second short film.
Brendon Wright: is a freelance commercial illustrator in Christchurch, New Zealand. While his preference is for comic styled artwork and logos, caricatures and silly animals have been his bread and butter.
The77 was his first opportunity in ‘real’ comics.
His first gig was artist for TMO Steve MacManus in the77 #1 and since then his series ‘Martian Law’ has been a regular feature and concludes after four parts in the upcoming issue. He also serves as the77’s official card-carrying art editor. Risks and challenges
POSTAGE COSTS: We’ll do everything we can to keep it to a minimum but this means international shipping will by surface.
PLEASE NOTE: Artwork will be sent to International backers (Non EU) by INTERNATIONAL SIGNED/TRACKED ROYAL MAIL service – if you want AIR MAIL you are welcome to email us at The77Publications@gmail.com to discuss your preference. Due to a disrupted delivery service in the UK and beyond, shipping timing could be affected.
If any goods arrive in a less than satisfactory condition, please contact us at The77Publications@gmail.com in the first instance.
64 oversized pages of today’s hottest talent brought to you by the UK’s newest comic publishing company – The77 Publications. Voted UK’s best independent comic in the ComicScene 2020 poll. Now available from Big Cartel
“Professionally, I work in understanding ‘future threats’ – and the wars of tomorrow will not be conflicts between nations, where a line on a map is the reason we are enemies, but rather our enemies will be decided based on their opinions and which camp they identify with.”
Paul Goodenough is an Emmy nominated writer, producer and creative director, working for companies like Warner Bros, Cartoon Network, Sky and BBC; with environmental organisations like Greenpeace, World Land Trust, Born Free, Global Wildlife Conservation and predicting future trends and threats with governmental agencies. Extinction: 2040 brings together all Paul’s work, research and experience into one story…
The77Publications: Paul, we understand you’ve a new comic project that is seeing the light of day this spring. Would you care to tell us a little about ‘Extinction 2040’ and how you got involved with The77?
Paul: Sadly, I really can’t remember how I got involved in The77! I met Ben at Thought Bubble when I was chatting with John Wagner, and I assume Ben and I just chatted from there. I know I was particularly taken with his vision and the core principles behind The77. As for EXTINCTION:2040, it hopefully channels some of that 1980’s/1990’s feelings about future nationality and societal collapse, but you know…. in a cool way. So I hate to be the bearer of bad news. But being British will go the same way as landline calls and milk deliveries. It’ll be for the few not for the many. Professionally, I work in understanding ‘future threats’ – and the wars of tomorrow will not be conflicts between nations, where a line on a map is the reason we are enemies, but rather our enemies will be decided based on their opinions and which camp they identify with. Social media and media at large will continue to drive a wedge between us. Previously calmly and carefully held considered opinions will be replaced with supercharged ideological fervor. It happens now, we can see the seeds. For example, I’m a keen environmentalist, so I associate far more with the views and the goals of Greenpeace than I do with any political party. So what will that mean for tomorrow? Well, in my opinion, groups will replace countries. So I won’t be British, I’ll be a citizen of Greenpeace and identify as such…. keep that in mind when you read our story. I’ll help 😉 In terms of the actual story, our narrative revolves around the very real probability that climate change will cause billions of people in the global south to be unable to live and grow food in their own countries. So they will be forced to emigrate or die – creating literally billions of ‘climate refugees’ and causing an ‘us and them’ situation – as there simply won’t be enough food for everyone. These climate refugees will have no choice but to brave the long long trip to the global north to the less affected areas of the world…. places like Britain… So in response to the growing fears that refugees will break the already strained communities of the global north, they turn their otherwise unemployable young people into a child army to patrol their borders and keep out those who would take what’s theirs. And EXTINCTION:2040 follows the struggles of three young people as they’re forced out into a world they don’t understand, to fight an enemy they don’t hate. I guess if you’re looking for likeable stories, it’s a little bit of a mash up between CHARLEY’S WAR and BAD COMPANY.
The 77Publications: You’re working with the artist, Ian Stopforth, who will be a new name to many. What does he bring to the strip and could tell what it’s been like working with him?
Paul: Ian’s bloody marvellous. He’s the best of us. I don’t think I’ve met many people in my life who are as wonderful, thoughtful and amazing as he is… He makes me seem like an utter crapbag in comparison. And his art… wow! If you don’t know already, Ian is a fine artist, working in oils and mixed media – and what I think we’ve both found is a natural rhythm between us. He from a perspective of mood, tone, beauty and poise, and me from sequential storytelling and overarching aesthetic. It just works. But that’s mostly because he’s easy to work with, as I can be quite demanding. I’m absolutely not comparing us, but in terms of the partnership, we’ve got this whole thing going on a little like Brian Michael Bendis and David Mack – in as much as I write the general script, Ian paints his vision, I then re-work the script based on his art. It’s very fluid and his art for episode 2 will knock you on your ass – it’s breathtaking.
The77Publications: How does this type of project differ from the work you do on a day to day basis?
Paul: Weirdly, it actually doesn’t! It combines a lot of my day-to-day work which is: working to stop species extinction, writing and producing comics, films and TV shows and helping predict the future societal threats that face humanity. So yeah, this is basically my entire day job wrapped up in a comic 🙂
The77Publications: When creating narrative fiction what advice would you give new writers?
Paul: Get your stuff made. Really. Nothing tells you how good your script is, or how honed your talent is, like seeing in drawn. Also, it’ll really show you where your scripts need more, or less, description – because I’ve worked with some artists and I (for the life of me) can’t understand how or why they’ve drawn a certain thing a certain way. Almost every time I get art back from any of the artists I work, there’s something new I learn and am struck by. It’s a beautiful thing. So if you’re starting out, either find some aspiring artists online or draw it yourself. Learn pacing, learn the structure. Writing for comics isn’t hard (in terms of the technicals), but writing good comics is an art. And art takes practice.
The77Publications: Which other projects of yours that you’re able to discuss are in the pipeline Paul?
Paul: Argh!! Very little sadly. I’ve got a few TV series in the works, an animated series, hopefully another thing with Marvel/Disney – and a massive international charity project that hopefully will launch in April… but it’s all currently under wraps. Sorry!!! I’m always doing something though – games, films, tv shows, radio interviews, gag shows…. I’ve got an open Facebook and Insta profile, so just add me there. That’s the easiest way to keep up to date. And trust me, once I know I can talk about it, I’ll be telling the world!