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Home ¦ Features ¦ Rich Johnston interview

Rich Johnston - A 2000 AD Review Interview
17th June 05

2000 AD -  Rich Johnston
Occasionally, 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 material?

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 done.

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.

What's 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?

Could 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 small.

The comics 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 products?

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?

Frequently.

And and have you ever broken a story you wished you hadn't?

Frequently.

From your column, what's been your personal favourite story?

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 next creatively?

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...

Rich Johnston's Lying 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 site.



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Original content (c) 2002 Gavin Hanly (contact 2000AD Review).