Normally, "2000 AD's" evil alien overlord Tharg oversees all outgoing transmissions, but since Tharg is currently out of the galaxy, he kindly allowed Editor-in-Chief Matt Smith to step in and take the reigns. Smith has been at the helm of "2000 AD" for over a decade and has helped usher in a new golden age for the classic UK anthology title.
A lot has happened since the last time CBR spoke with Smith: The longest Judge Dredd epic in history, "Day of Chaos," came to a shocking conclusion, the "Dredd 3D" film was released in theaters, a "2000 AD" digital app was released for Apple iOS and IDW Publishing's partnership with "2000 AD" kicked into high gear.
In speaking with CBR and answering reader questions, Smith discusses all this and more, giving details about upcoming collected editions, "Armitage," future "2000 AD" novels, the new "2000 AD" digital app and much, much more.
CBR News: Matt, first off, what's new over at the Nerve Center? Any "2000 AD" news to report?
Matt Smith: Lots going on licensing-wise -- expect to see more "2000 AD" merchandise being revealed in 2013, and we're expanding our digital publishing range, so more issues and graphic novels are going to be available to download. Next year we're celebrating a very special anniversary, so expect some big names to be returning to the comic to help mark the occasion.
You've got the bookend "2000 AD" Prog 2013 being released on December 12. What's the line-up like for this year's annual?
As zarjaz as ever. We've got the start of new series for "Strontium Dog" by John Wagner & Carlos Ezquerra, "Savage" by Pat Mills & Patrick Goddard, "Ampney Crucis Investigates…" by Ian Edginton & Simon Davis and the final arc of "The Red Seas" by Ian Edginton & Steve Yeowell. Plus, there's complete stories featuring "Judge Dredd," "Absalom," "Aquila" and "The Visible Man!"
What has the audience reaction been like for the current "Judge Dredd: The Cold Deck," "Low Life" and "The Simping Detective" crossover?
Incredibly positive. I was quite bowled over by how genuinely enthusiastic the fans were once they realized the three stories were connected. I even got a thank you note in the post, which was quite touching.
We spoke a bit about "Brass Sun" last time, and since then, it was released and has been very well received. When can readers expect the next installment?
Maybe middle to late 2013, depending on schedules. Ian's plotting it out as we speak.
How, if at all, has the release of "Dredd 3D" affected "2000 AD's" upcoming plans?
It hasn't really affected our plans -- we'll continue to do what we do, and an increased interest in Dredd will only help that. Dredd always sells the best -- maybe in the US you might see more of a concentration of Dredd books -- but we won't be sidelining our other characters.
What stories can readers look forward to in the first half of 2013 and beyond?
Everything that starts in Prog 2013 will run through till March. There'll be a jumping-on Prog with Prog 1824, which will see the start of new series for "Stickleback" by Ian Edginton & D'Israeli, "Zombo" by Al Ewing & Henry Flint, "Dandridge" by Alec Worley & Warren Pleece and a run of the 3-part "Tharg's 3rillers," featuring work by Gordon Rennie, Neil Googe, David Baillie, Inaki Miranda, Tom Eglington and Boo Cook.
"2000 AD's" 35th anniversary has just about come and gone. It was a huge year for the book: breaking deeper into the US market, Dredd's IDW series, the conclusion to the mega-popular Judge Dredd epic "Day of Chaos" and the release of "Dredd 3D." What were your personal highlights from the past year?
"Day of Chaos" was a good one -- the longest ever Dredd story, and an amazing one. Finally seeing "Dredd 3D" after four years or so of production was, of course, very exciting and a visceral experience. IDW taking Dredd to a new audience has been enjoyable to be involved with. And seeing our Apple Newsstand app take off and bring in a whole bunch of new readers has been very satisfying.
On a personal note, you'll be scripting the upcoming "Judge Dredd: Year One" for IDW Publishing. How did this come about and how are you approaching the subject matter? Dredd's past still has many unexplored areas --
IDW was originally interested in me adapting my "Judge Dredd: Year One" e-novella "City Fathers" into a four-issue series, but I ended doing a whole new story. "The Long Hard Road" is still set in the first year of Dredd's time on the streets, and I'm exploring his youth and the fallout from the Atomic War (which was only ten years previously) that nuked most of Dredd's world. Dredd's different compared to young Batman or young Sherlock Holmes in that he's even more of a hard-ass as an eighteen year old than he is in his sixties!
Now, onto the reader questions! We've collected these from the "2000 AD" fans over at the 2000adonline.com forums.
NapalmKev wants to know, "Any chance of new series of 'Canon Fodder,' 'Maniac 5' or a serious story involving the Dark Judges (their appearance in 'Day of Chaos' was little more than comic relief again, in my opinion)?"
"Canon Fodder" and "Maniac 5" won't be returning, but the Dark Judges certainly will be -- look out for the incredible "Dark Justice" by John Wagner and Greg Staples in 2013. In fact, you can see a teaser image in Prog 2013.
Colin_YNWA was one of many readers who wondered, "When's 'Sinister Dexter' coming back?"
Next year, by Dan Abnett and John Burns. The start of a new arc for Ray and Finny -- as the gun-sharks are smuggled out of Downlode and into new lives -- called "Witless Protection."
Coline_YNWA was also interested in the return of another fan-favorite thrill, "Kingdom." "There's been some talk in these parts lately about the lack of 'Kingdom.' Now speculation, right or wrong, has it that's down to Richard Elson getting a break into the big time Stateside. When an artist is out there spreading the word of thrillpower with the great unwashed what factors go into deciding when its time to get another artist onboard? We've had some great suggestions: Anthony Williams, Nigel Dobbyn and Paul Marshal. So how about it if the great Mr. Elson is too busy, can we have one of those fella's getting a go?"
Richard's going to find time between his Marvel gigs to draw the next "Kingdom" series. Dan's writing it up as we speak.
Oshii asks what most of us would like to find out, "When's John Wagner's next Dredd story?"
"Tough Love," drawn by Ben Willsher, in "Judge Dredd Megazing" issue 334.
AlexF asks, "Who's your favourite '2000 AD' villain created in the last ten years?" Moloch from "Slaine" springs to mind. That pierced eyeball -- brr!
Cactus is curious to know, "Why is volume 3 of the 'Nikolai Dante' saga still out of print? Sort it out Tharg!
Because the "Dredd Case Files" keep needing reprinting, and as they have more pre-orders, they jump to the front of the queue in the list of books that require a new run. New print runs aren't cheap (and neither are distribution or storage), and a calculation has to be made whether the sales of a book will offset that cost.
Bringing up the popular Brit-Cit character Detective-Judge Armitage, Grant Goggans asks, "In 1999, Jock provided an 'Armitage' cover for the 'Judge Dredd Megazine' that was never used and apparently never seen by the public. How about dusting that off for the next time 'Armitage' returns to the 'Meg?'"
Jock's cover was used on the "Bodies of Evidence" mini-trade bagged with Meg 304, back in November 2010.
Moving to more recent history, Grant Goggans also asks, "How is the should-be-in-stores-as-soon-as-possible collected edition of 'The Cold Deck' going to be laid out? Possibly 'The Family Man,' 'Bullet to King Four,' and then alternating episodes of the stories? Are you just trying to give your graphic novel editors and design team nightmares?
It'll be collected as it appeared in the comic -- "Judge Dredd," "Low Life," "The Simping Detective."
Tim Tails asks about "2000 AD's" non-comic book output. "Will we ever see any more original '2000 AD' novels in print?"
Probably no more in print, but there'll be more e-books, and the short stories appearing each month in the Meg will be collected up at some point as an e-anthology.
Next is a behind the scenes question from Dandontdare. "How far ahead are the contents of the Prog decided? Do you have plans for 6 months? A year? Just next week?"
Depends entirely on the length of the series. I've got a rough idea of what'll be in the Prog up to June next year. But one-offs to fill a gap can be turned around in the space of a month.
Dandontdare continues, asking, "Are there any past creators that you are actively trying to lure back to the Prog? How do you go about schmoozing them?"
Keep an eye on the Prog this summer to see who's coming back.
Finally, "2000 AD" forum regular Sauchie would like to ask the Nerve Center, "When will every Prog will be available digitally? Would that involve a modest annual subscription, rather than forking out £1.49 to wallow in the nostalgia of reading a Dan Abnett 'Dredd' and an episode of Peter Hogan's 'Timehouse' without disturbing my paper copies?"
It's probably unlikely that every Prog ever published will be available digitally, but we're expanding backwards to make back issues available for the "2000 AD" app, so those from the past two to three years will be ready to download, and we'll keep going as time and resources allow.
"2000 AD" Prog 2013 featuring Judge Dredd goes on sale in the UK and worldwide digitally on December 12th. Check out the "2000 AD" forums at 2000adonline.com to sumbit questions for future installments of "2000 AD" Thrill Tease with Matt Smith.