¦ Features ¦ Rich
we like to cast the interviewing net outside of the 2000AD pond and talk to people
involved with the comics industry at large. So we got in touch with industry gossip
columnist Rich Johnston to find out his thoughts on the UK comics scene.
What do you think of the state of the UK comics scene
at the moment?
Well there's Viz Comic. And Marvel UK seem to be filling up
the racks again. Manga seems to be doing well in bookstores. And Jonathan Cape
seems to making a tidy sum... they've just signed up Bryan (Nemesis) Talbot's
"Alice In Sunderland".
For a while, 2000AD was almost seen as a talent hunting
ground for many US companies. Do you think this is the case any more?
Certainly is! Editors can move straight to writing for Vertigo.
Many big name UK writers and artists are now some of
the most celebrated creators in the US comics scene - is there ever hope of a
UK based industry that would tempt some of them to work on home grown and published
It would need the sales. Hence what happened to Liam Sharp's
valiant attempts with Event Horizon. And remember CoolBeansWorld? No? No, exactly.
What could be done to improve the visibility of the
comics book scene in the UK?
Probably any kind of advertising whatsoever.
Can you think of examples of promotional opportunities
that are not being properly mined?
I'd say all of them. Have you seen how easy it is for lesbian
Batwoman and mask-off Spider-man to get coverage?
Make Judge Dredd gay or get him to take off his helmet. Job
Do you think the burgeoning small press scene could
be seen as the saviour of the market here?
Not of the market,
no. They sell for shit. Of the art form, possibly.
your impression on some of the output?
Paul Rainey, Jeremy Dennis, Roger Langridge and Mark Stafford.
Why the hell aren't they A-listers by now? Hmm?
there be a benefit from UK based press such as Comics International and awards
ceremonies like the Eagle Awards concentrating on UK talent rather than focusing
on products from the Big Two?
No, or it dilutes the power of such awards.
Dez Skinn rather infamously suggested at the recent
Eagle Awards that the Judge Dredd Megazine didn't have long to live. From behind
the scenes, have you heard of any rumblings that contributed to this belief?
No. But then it's possible he based that on Rebellion's lack
of ads in recent Comics Internationals...
If both the megazine and 2000AD folded - what would
the effect be on the industry over here?
Not that great. They've become such niche magazines. Their audience
is unique, aging and will wither. All it means will be about eight writers and
sixteen artists will be out of regular work. In the great scheme of things, that's
scene in general seems to be in retreat against the twofold approach of comics
related merchandise and spin-off movies. Many comics shops, perhaps understandably,
focus on these areas as better areas of profitability - but is there a danger
of this focus being self destructive and eventually harming the sales of the core
No. Only not diversifying can harm the sales of the core product.
Your column has often been the place where many comics
news stories are broken - almost the equivalent of Popbitch for the comics industry.
What's the best and worst reaction you've had from any of your scoops?
I've had someone kiss my on the lips for one story. And death
threats for another.
Have you ever held something back at the request of
a creator or publisher?
And and have you ever broken a story you wished you
From your column, what's been your personal favourite
Probably the lack of power of Wizard Magazine in promoting their
editor's new comic. A fair few years ago, but it really tickled me.
After the Flying Friar - what can we expect from you
Civil Wardrobe, a Marvel Comics parody.
If you had carte blanche to change one thing in the
comics industry for the > better (UK or US markets) what would it be.
I'd make Scott Pilgrim a weekly.
And finally - can you reveal any scoops for us?
No, that's what
the column's for. Mind you, no one knows that Bryan Talbot thing yet...
in the Gutters column appears on Comic Book Resources every Monday
evening - and you can find out more about the Flying Friar at his official