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!
… well, to give you a very short version of the story as some of you may well already know. I essentially gave up on, and did no illustrative work for 25 years !!!
Then in late 2019 I jumped on just for fun, out of an absolute love of The Judge Dredd, the Everything Comes back to 2000ad boys ‘Drokktober’ event – and put out a volume of work for that with such proliferation, it led to an album cover for Vertical Noise and some early commission work !!!
Ultimately The ‘77 chased me up for some stuff for issue one, but the deadlines were just too tight – I was crestfallen and thought I’d missed an opportunity of a lifetime. As luck would have it, they came back with another script for issue two – The Cell with none other than Bambos Georgiou, the rest as they say is history !!!
So, to book end what is a ‘chapter’ break in the first arc of The Cell, Steve Bull commissioned me for a cover to commemorate that very occasion for issue five.
I’ll always remember the extensive conversations we had discussing virtually over the phone of what that would look like.
I’ve enjoyed a very productive and constructive relationship with Steve, and as such whilst we had very diverging ideas of what we wanted to do, this usually leads to something completely different and ultimately far more satisfying !!!
I originally wanted to pay homage to Uncanny X-Men 141 and Excalibur 23 with 5T3V3N and 8AR8RA against a spotlighted wall surrounded by guards, and as it was to be an ‘Artist Edition’ wraparound variant have that very wall extended onto the cover rear and have and undisclosed ‘tertiary’ character on an old poster bill !!!
The concern being this would be far too much of a plot reveal for the strips future plans and shared universe !!!
We essentially settled on, thematically something more in the vein of old British comics that essentially conveyed, in part the thematically episode of that issue – which by the time you read this you’ll shortly have in your hands !!!
So, I proposed a new idea which initially saw our ‘villainess’ the vicious vixen herself VALKYR13 having bested Lt. 73V3N in mortal combat and 8AR8RA and 5T3V3N on the rear of the cover !!!
I mapped out a very crude thumbnail, Steve warmly gave that the thumbs up and I literally set about penciling it out in rough form working out the composition and locking in the characters position and posture !!!
The VALKYR13 portion, as this was to be drawn on two separate art boards and later linked together with a unifying background came together very quickly and was more than happy with the look and feel of it all !!!
But, I quickly realized a supporting cast member was really deserving of selling the magazine or despite her popularity enough to sell the ‘story’ !!!
As late as it was, I grabbed the other art board and literally off the cuff started drawing 5T3V3N going head on with one of the Troops of Doom – we had the front, and loosely matching up the art boards I realized I had pretty much what I wanted and it was nearer to what I’d envisioned for my debut cover !!!
This design change was essentially that this would be the portion of the cover the reader would potentially see on the shelf of a comic store or even the venerable newsagent !!!
As such had to be strong enough to standalone as a singular image and be visually striking enough to arrest a potential readers attention !!!
It was around 05:00 Hrs at this point so I slunk off to bed.
I think if memory serves I was back up around 09:00 Hrs and after coffee pretty spent the morning tightening up the pencils and after lunch, turned my attention to locking in the rear cover. I think the rear of the cover is a great piece in its own right, was too much fun and whilst it has it own charm, is part of a far bigger sum – I pleased I decided to make the rear of the cover .
I’d love confidently state that I know what I’m doing, I don’t and often in the instance of this cover – my usual frenetic work place slowed continuously checking and working out every design decision, knowing that one fatal mistake could lose me valuable hours, even days worth of work !!!
So, to mitigate that risk, that’s why the cover was split in two separate pieces to be inked separately.
The inking process is fairly straightforward. I first drop in the black line, whilst not absolutely definitive these essentially mark out what’s to be kept and everything else gets pencil wise gets erased, more or less …
These then get further work using Rotring Artist Pens (traditionally used for Calligraphy) Pilot Parallel Pens, Pentel Fude and Pocket Brush Pens and a variety of markets, white out pens and even spritzing on ink and white paint for certain effects and texture, later to be utilized with color.
A lot of work here if thickening up the black line work, adding in detail, equipment, patina and initial shadows and feathering to create form and direct light.
Next up is spotting the blacks and continuously working in detail and working on the inks and pushing them up to where I want them to be, not necessarily standard perspective but to create at this juncture something as close to the image in my head !!!
A lot of what appears on any page from me is almost like some weird video playback taking form in pen and ink !!!
Initial images where sent over of progress to Dave Heeley, Bambos and Steve and by all accounts where met warmly and with encouragement – aside from raw line work the front cover sat incomplete for several days as I toiled often late at night into the small hours working on the inks of the rear cover !!!
Once complete I had a day or two off, I think just to freshen my mind and get some perspective and summon the courage and energy to attack the cover front !!!
“I think I worked on it virtually continuously for 18 hours”
Possibly spurred on by what had been learnt and exercised on the rear of the cover the front image was inked really quickly – if memory serves, I think I worked on it virtually continuously for 18 hours, including the background which unify and bring the two pieces together !!!
As instructed I got an initial scan of it black and white, I’d like to say this in part was purely to produce an ‘artifact’ edition of this at a later date – but also served as a good safety net in case things went wrong at a later date !!!
Trying to find somewhere with an A2 scanner during Lockdown was problematic. So the solution was to make do with what I had and I scanned 2/3rds of it for either side, this was at over 600dpi HD and captured every smudge, pencil mark, dent and ink transferred from the side of my drawing hand – and makes for quite the historical document !!!
Anyhow, Editor Ben and Art Editor Brendon, whilst all of that stuff could of been cleaned up in post production encouragingly agreed to keep it in, preserving very much, what was very much now a living thing !!!
Testament to Brendon’s amazing editorial skills he was with the high resolution scans able to seamlessly stitch them together with no issues.
I cleared hot to get on with coloring what was now a singular A2 monster !!!
I initially had a visions for a two tone cover working across the spectrum of a very limited palette, in part to mimic the very stark contrast I use on the luminescent artificial lighting of The Cell itself !!!
Hot off the success of The VALKYR13 pin up I did for Issue Four I wanted to revisit that two tone effect, but in orange !!!
“The process is relatively simple – unlike paint, where traditionally you block in the darker colors first, with markers I start with the lightest colors and the reverse in the darker colors !!!”
I was mindful that this could either make or break the aesthetic of the cover and reduce its effectiveness to grab the readers attention !!!
So I chose to illuminate 5T3V3N and The Troops of Doom in greens to play off the bright gun flashes and set that against a colder blue background !!!
Conversely VALKYR13 and Lt. 73V3N where dropped back in warmer oranges created by initially coloring them in yellow and working over in pink to create this strange orange glow !!!
This pitched then perfectly against their half of the background without diminishing the attention from the cover front !!!
The process is relatively simple – unlike paint, where traditionally you block in the darker colors first, with markers I start with the lightest colors and the reverse in the darker colors !!!
Whilst it’s a slower process, I do this over several stages to let the colors cure and prevent bleed or muddying the colors.
After that it’s a small amount of post production using chalk paint markers, pencils and working in some of the black inks which often get dulled reacting with the markers and spraying some effects with all sorts of paints, ink odd colors, essentially almost giving a colorized texture to the piece !!!
After nearly two weeks, pretty much working on and off everyday it was complete, scanned and digitally sent off to Brendon to edit and scale to best fit the cover dimensions and add the custom battle damaged trade dress and barcode !!!
He’s done a fantastic job and couldn’t be prouder !!!
There’s a few things I’d perhaps in hindsight like to change, but as Herculean a task it was to get this done, for once without be overly self deprecating I think it works as a complete piece, and ultimately serves its purpose of capturing a potential readers attention – I surely hope you genuinely enjoy as much as I had fun creating it !!!”
Steve MacManus is a British comic writer and editor, particularly known for his work at 2000 AD and Creator of the New upcoming Comic Blazer!
What is Blazer!
Blazer! is a 32-page, indie anthology comic in the style of the British newsstand weeklies of the 1970s such as Battle Picture Weekly, Action, 2000 AD and Starlord. In one sense, it is more a reflection of Lion comic or Valiant comic in that its strips cover a variety of genres rather than being specifically about war, sport or science fiction.
Who are the crew working on it?
In real life, the group editor is Ben Cullis, ably assisted by the designer and sub-editor Andrew Richmond. Dan Cornwell, Colin Maxwell, Peter Western, Filippo Roncone, Andrew Richmond and Ian Baker draw the strips. Dominika Brodowska appears as sub-editor Dom Tom and the photographs of her are by Peter Western. Blazer! Is published by The77 Publications Ltd.
Will it be ongoing?
The Kickstarter went so well, exceeding £8,000 pledged, that Ben Cullis and his publishing team have green-lit a second issue. However, as you will understand, the notion of Blazer! being a monthly or even a weekly is unrealistic at this time. Think of it more as blazing comet-like ball of nostalgia that will shoot across the firmament from time to time in the future.
Is it connected to your novel The Sheerglam Conspiracy ?
Yes. Indelibly! The SheerGlam Conspiracy tells the tale of a circulation war between two rival comics publishing companies in 1970s London. To establish an outright dominance in the market, one of the companies hires two scriptwriters to create a new title, which is codenamed GNP 13. As the novel progresses, we see the different strips for the title being created and learn that it has a working title of Blaze. The scripts for these strips are presented at the back of the novel and it is these scripts that form the strip content of Blazer!
What was the first comic story you wrote?
Ignoring a rather verbose attempt at the Swots and Blots, my first comic story was episode one of The Running Man for Action, the comic created by Pat Mills.
Where did you get the idea for Blazer! ?
I found some preparatory notes about it in the dustbin of a well-known comic strip writer, whose name must remain a secret for a jolly long time.
How do you come up with names for your characters?
I follow the Gerry Finley-Day method, which is to find a name that suggests the character of the owner. For example, to me, the name Clive Clitus sums up perfectly someone who would edit a horror comic (especially when you add the nickname ‘Cobweb’). As such, I thought the name Gloria SheerGlam would do very well for a powerful female figure in the 1970s comics publishing industry.
Writing is a solitary pursuit. Editing is highly interactive. Take your pick!
Do you think 2000AD fans will enjoy it?
Indubitably, my dear sir… it will be a hit with them — a very palpable hit!
The Brew Gooders episode 74. “This Week, we will have Steve MacManus (former editor of 2000AD) and Dan Cornwell (artist on Rok of the Reds) joining us to talk about the launch of Blazer, a comic straight from the 1970’s. Speaking of the 70’s Benksy , editor of the 77 might pop by too!” https://youtu.be/nquEmUlO6Xw
Cover Penny Pentagram by Jon Roydon Penny Pentagram pt 2/3 Colour David Thomas, Jon Roydon 6 pages Bounty on the Mutie (Colour) Bambos Georgiou, Neil Sims 4 pages Prodigal (Colour) Mal Earl – 4 pages Trackless Depths pt 2/3 (B&W) Dave Bedford, Ben ‘Mac’ Macleod -5 pages The Cell pt 3/4 Colour Bambos Georgiou, Andrew Sawyers – 6 pages V pt 4/10 (Colour) Steve Bull, Ade Hughes, Darren Stephens -2 pages Vpin up by Hughes, Darren Stephens Demon For Dinner “Chi77er” B&W Jim Tomlinson, Rupert Jones-5 pages Martian Law pt 3 Colour Brendon Wright -5 pages 77Stars poster Bambos Georgiou Scarred for life feature by Jo Heeley-2 pages Undertow pt 3/4 Col – Joe Dunn, Jeremy Dunn 4 pages FunSShun (Colour) Paul Duncan, Robert Wells -6 pages Division ’77 pt 4/5 Colour Dave Heeley, Sinclair Elliott, Darren Stephens – 2 pages SGT. Shouty pt 4 (Colour)Lew Stringer -1 page Valkyrie pin up Andrew Sawyers Sk8te Worm – (A5 Zine insert) B&W Conan and Gleave
Cover Ade Hughes B&W Part 3: Fade away the duller shade of living by Steve Bull and Ade Hughes GRID (2) Col An assassin who will literally kill for a quiet drink byDave Heeley and Neil Sims The Screaming Hand 3/4 (5) B&W Part 2: More macabre horror from Kek-W, Conor Boyle The Cell 2/3 (4) Col Part 2: Meet 8AR8ARA by Bambos Georgoiu and Andrew Sawyers The Trackless Depths 1/3 (6) B&W Part 1: ‘Death is still cold in the warm seas’ by Dave Bedford and Ben Macleod Matilda Atkins & Amulet Of Destiny (5) Col “Matilda’s here to save the world and steal your chips!” Michael Powell and Sarah Millman Division ’77 3/5 (4) Col Part 4: Crossing the Rubicon by Dave Heeley, Sinclair Elliott and Darren Stephens Division ’77 pin-up B&W by Andrew Sawyers SGT Shouty! pt 3 (1) Col Part 3: Behold Evil Doctor Plank! By Lew Stringer Forgotten Reality (4) B&W Nothing is what you remember’ by Anna Everts and Phil Elliott Undertow 2/4 (4) Col Part 2: In a flooded world, one man refuses to give up the day job by Joe and Jeremy Dunn Gut Crawlers 2/2 (4) B&W Part 2: Esssential workers doing The Galaxy’s dirtiest job by Dan Whitehead and Filippo Roncone Martian Law 2/4 (5) Col Part 2: The monstrous melee at Mikhael’s military merch Brendon Wright Skate Worm (1) B&W Resusitated! Mutated! Skated! Part 2: ‘F.O.A.D.’ Conan and Gleave Penny Pentagram 1/3 (6) Col Part 1: Howling Moonshine! David Thomas, Jon Roydon Roll of Honour Anat and Shard poster by Hal Laren
The77 voted 2nd best U.K comic in major poll run by Comic Scene magazine. ComicScene is comic trade magazine that focuses on both commercial and independent publications
“It’s incredible that in less than a year the77 has established itself in the hearts of UK readers in such a way. By utilising familiar names and raw talent we are producing a quality, quarterly anthology that has readers begging for more.” – Dave Heeley
“We’re immensely proud that we’ve kept readers entertained during the age of Covid” – Jo Heeley
“Whatvid? Covid, doesn’t matter we’ve got a new comic to read and as soon as you touch it you can feel the difference thanks to the paper stock. It may seem trivial but it just feels like quality before you even start on the stories, my favourites of which I’d like to highlight now. Division 77(Dave Heeley, Elliots, Bolt) lol one little virus eh? Once we get up to 96 pages of this it’s destined for a collected edition, good pacing great art work. V(Bully from the boot camp, Ade Hughes, Annie Parkhouse) I was hooked from page one of this and it has just gone from strength to strength, my only issue with this one is I want more of it.
The Screaming Hand (Kek-w, Conor Boyle, Annie Parkhouse(If you can find the A team you use the A team)) Wonderfully atmospheric, Conor Boyle is definitely picking up what Kek is throwing down and I can envision the screaming hand on a nice T-shirt.#
issue 1 special mentions: Mal Earl for Prodigal just missed my top three, awesome solo work here with really nice colour pallete changes through issue 2&3. Neil Simms and Brendon Wright for great colour and texture, both a joy to behold. Lew Stringer for, well, being Lew Stringer. Drew Marr: a nice touch of originality for one so young.#
Issue 2 we get a new writer(to me anyway) burst into the77 with 2 whopper stories Gut Crawlers and Jerico-5 with PJ Holden and Paul Williams on art duty. Gut Crawlers especially is right in my horrible future jobs wheelhouse.
with all of our returning stories from issue1 resolving cliffhangers and world building this is a very enjoyable read.
Issue 2 also sees the beginning of the Cell (Bambous Georgiou, Andrew Sawyers, Filipo) Probably the most visually striking strip in the mag, you just have to see it really.
Can’t forget The Ghastly United either, I love grey scale with touches of colour so this ones a tap in, easy goal.
Issue 3: We are in full swing baby, all of the stories above are in full stride and we finally get to meet Sgt. Shouty’s Nemessis, roll on issue 4 and beyond.
Big Love and lots of Vitamin D to the whole 77 crew.”