¦ Features ¦ David
Bishop Interview Part 2
1, Spacegirls, Dead Men Walking... I think we can say your series have a knack
of splitting the opinions of the fan base, and being controversial, is this deliberate,
or a happy coincidence?
B.L.A.I.R. 1- now that hating Tony Blair is a spectator sport these days, it's
satisfying to see how far ahead of the curve that series was. It got us a lot
of free publicity, but should have been in Private Eye, not 2000 AD. Space Girls
- that's a crass idea and all my fault. John Tomlinson and Jason Brashill did
their best but no matter how much you polish a turd, it's still a piece of shit.
As for controversy, that was certainly the intent of B.L.A.I.R. 1 and Space Girls.
On Dead Man Walking I was just trying to tell a good yarn and not entirely succeeding.
It's been my experience you learn more from your mistakes than from your successes.
What are your feelings about A Life Less Ordinary? Do you consider it
success, or a heroic failure?
1997 was a year of highs and lows on 2000 AD. The 20th anniversary, introducing
Nikolai Dante to the comic, Sinister Dexter hitting its stride, nice little series
like Mercy Heights - but the wheels starting coming right off in the second half
of the year. I was editing 2000 AD and the Megazine and drokk knows what else
all at the same time, effectively on my own. Budget cuts, management pressure
to court mainstream media attention. The good thing was I lost more than a stone
in weight. The bad thing was what ended up in the comic in the last months of
On the face of it, ALLO seemed like a good idea. The three filmmakers were white
hot after Shallow Grave and then Trainspotting, the film had enough fantastical
elements to justify its presence in the comic and Steve Yeowell performed miracles
churning out the pages in next to no time. But the film sucked and any PR benefits
were non-existent, leaving just disgruntled readers wondering why the Galaxy's
Greatest Comic was printing Space Girls, ALLO and the last dregs of Vector 13
in the same progs. Thank Grud Andy Diggle turned up and reminded me what the comic
should be like!
Heroic failure? That's being a little kind.
Dead Men Walking didn't seem to go down to well with the fans (or at least
the online element), why do you think this was? Were you happy with the series?
Dead Men Walking has attracted some hysterical reactions from certain boarders
at 2000adonline. I thought Boo Cook really came on leaps and bounds as an artist
on that series, he's a real talent for the coming years. As for my scripts and
story, they have their flaws. I tried too hard to make it episode readable in
its own right, wasted too much time doing recaps when I only had five pages an
episode. The strip appearing opposite Harry 20 on the High Rock reprints in the
Megazine was unfortunate too, but if DMW had been better written that wouldn't
have mattered so much. Originally it was pitched as Shawshank Redemption in Space
but the melodrama got ramped up and it mutated into Bad Girls in Space - not quite
the same thing. The joy of hindsight is you can see all the things you should
have done differently, the sorrow is you're too late to change them.
Why did you
decide to publish it under a pseudonym?
dead man walking from Dead Man Walking
I honestly can't remember why. For those who hated DMW, that somehow became another
stick to beat it with, as if I was ashamed of what I'd done and was hiding behind
the pseudonym. I'm not ashamed of it at all. I wish it had been better received
and more successful. Next time I'll use the pseudonym Gordon Rennie instead!
Through the novels and audios, you have had a lot of experience writing
Dredd, but only once in strip form. Have you ever considered writing more Dredd
Actually I've just written ten weeks' worth of Dredd Metro scripts and thoroughly
enjoyed the experience. It'd be nice to have a crack at Old Stoney Face in 2000
AD and the Megazine, but I'll probably have to assassinate both Wagner and Rennie
Which do you prefer writing, comics, novels, or the audio dramas? And
which of these do you find the easiest to write?
I'm not sure I have a preference regarding the medium. Comics can be very quick
to write but the results can be a lottery - will the artist follow the script,
tell the story, make the pictures in my head come alive on the page? Novels are
a very pure way of getting your creative vision to the reader, just the editor
between your words and the audience - but there's a hell of a lot of typing to
produce 70,000 words. Audio dramas are a real challenge, particularly overcoming
limitations of cast size and storytelling style. Having worked in comics for so
long I've developed a very visual imagination, but audio requires actions and
incidents that can be understood without people standing round describing what
is happening. So it forces you to imagine differently. My dialogue can be weak,
so audio dramas are a good discipline, forcing me to work harder at that aspect
of my writing. You can hide a lot of bad dialogue in a novel, but not in audio.