¦ Features ¦ Gordon
Interview Part 1
Interview by Richmond
cloned Kazan, Dredd's new nemesis
Rennie has worked his way up the ranks to become one of the top creators working
for 2000AD. The past two years have not only seen him create one of the best debuts
for a new strip with Caballistics Inc, but have also seen him emerge as the heir
apparent to John Wagner's throne as chief Dredd writer in waiting.
We caught up
with Mr Rennie to ask about Dredd, Caballistics, Rogue and more...
First of all, what made
you want to write comic for a living, and can you make a living doing it?
It seemed a better idea
than working for a living. I've been doing it for thirteen years now, so, yes,
I guess you can make a living from it. Not a bad one too, sometimes. Don't believe
all the nonsense you hear from embittered failures about how you can't make a
living from working for 2000AD.
What are the biggest
differences between writing comic scripts, and writing novels? And which do you
With novels, it's just you
and the reader. You don't have an artist to interpret the action, descriptions
etc for you and make it seem real to the reader. It's just down to you and your
writing ability. I know some comic writers who, frankly, can barely string a properly
written sentence together, and who positively shit themselves at the idea of writing
prose, where they don't have the pretty pictures to fall back on.
Which do I prefer? Well,
the novel stuff takes me forever, and, on a strictly time-to-money earned equation,
the comics stuff is much more worth my while. So I guess I prefer writing comics.
I still keep on doing the novels, though, since they give me the chance to do
stuff I couldn't do in comics.
My Rogue Trooper
novel - plug, plug - has got lots of background stuff about Rogue, the GIs, Nu
Earth, the war, Norts and Southers etc that couldn't credibly be put into a comic
strip. I tried to do the same thing with the Dredd vs Death novel - throw in lots
of extra detail about Mega-City One and the Justice Department. Go read it - it's
not just yer average dumb computer game novelization, honest!
Do you find
writing the Metro strip, telling the tale in five short bursts, any more of a
challenge than writing a normal length tale?
I've only done eight of
them, but they're pretty good fun. Dredd Lite, really, very much emphasising all
the mad, quirky stuff of future-life in a place like Mega City-One. They're useful
for doing more simplistic, fun ideas that maybe wouldn't stand up as 6-page stories
in the prog. I also did some stories for the Dredd Daily Star strip in its latter
days, but they were a lot different - continuous 42-part stories that ran for
7 weeks each, so you could tell a much more involved story there.
Yes, you're right, though.
As with writing anything short, quite often the challenge isn't what to put in
it, but what to leave out and how to do what you want to do with the story in
the limited space available. Writing 5-page Future Shocks or a 6-page Dredd story
definitely teaches you something about economy of story-telling.
Can you ever
see John Wagner retiring from Dredd?
meets the Queen
Of course I can. I think
John's on record as saying he'll go before Dredd does. He's been writing Dredd,
with only a few minor interludes, for the last 27 years. Do you think he wants
to keep on doing it for another 27 years? I know I wouldn't. Despite what some
of the readers seem to think, Dredd isn't the be-and-end-all of John's life, and
nor should he be. George Lucas once said something like "I may have created
Star Wars, but doesn't mean I go to bed wearing Star Wars pyjamas." I think
that's how John quite rightly sees Dredd.
What do you think is
the secret of writing a good Dredd tale?
I dunno. 'Try not to make
it crap', would seem to be a good point to remember. For a supposedly one-note
character, Dredd doesn't half prove to be difficult for a lot of otherwise good
writers to get right. He's not a total fascist violent bastard, and he's not a
tough-cop-with-a-secret heart-of-gold either. Dredd's an iceberg, and there is
the vague shape of a human personality buried in there somewhere, but it's more
complex than a lot of people seem to realise. My favourite 'human' Dredd stories
aren't the easy-write schmaltz ones. They're the ones where he's forced to interact
socially with ordinary people - instead of shooting or arresting them - and usually
fails miserably in the process. The story where he has to give a speech at the
funeral of PJ Maybe's uncle, or the one where he goes to visit an injured Judge
in hospital, and the two of them sit there in this horribly awkward silence, tells
you more about Dredd's personality than any number of stories about rescuing crack
babies and weeping children.
Being a miserable Scottish
git seems to help too. Well, that, and actually having a genuine love for the
character and his world.
visits Planet Gary
rave reviews for Gulag, your first stab at a large multi-part Dredd tale. Has
this whetted your appetite for a larger epic, and will we be seeing more of Kazan
in the near future?
Yes, the Kazan clone will be back, athough I don't really know how or when. He
might sneakily change targets and go after someone else, though, in a 'sins of
the father are visited upon the next generation' kind of deal. Hopefully, I will
be doing more longer Dredd stories, and I've certainly got some ideas. I also
want to go back to some of the things I've introduced into the strip, like the
regulars of the bar Dredd went to in the After Hours one-off. I'm doing a story
called 'Missing In action', about one of those characters, and then I've got an
idea for a story called 'Return to Planet Gary' about the bar itself.