INTERVIEW: monkey business with Arthur Wyatt and Jake Lynch
The ape jimp Judge Harry Heston returns in this month's Megazine in Krong Island!
4 weeks ago
It's time to go ape once more as this month's Judge Dredd Megazine brings you the continuing adventures of Harry Heston!
Co-created by late superfan Stewart Perkins, the Ape Judge returns for more monkey business with Judge Dredd in the four-part Krong Island, penned by writer Arthur Wyatt with Harry’s co-creator Jake Lynch back on art duties.
Richard Bruton sat down to talk Dredd, Harry, and all things gloriously gorilla with the pair.
Harry Heston came into being back in 1999. Created by Stuart Perkins and Jake Lynch for the Class of ’79 Judge Dredd fanzine, this genetically modified gorilla was an “uplift” with a penchant for reading and a love of justice, thanks to Judge Dredd’s inspirational text, “The Comportment Of A Judge”. Harry made his first official “canon” appearance in Megazine #376.
Arthur, Jake, can you give us a quick recap of the fascinating history of Harry Heston, the gorilla-judge of MC1?
JL: Regarding his Class of '79 days, he was created as our 'Judge Dredd' - a flagship character for a fanzine with ideas above its station. We figured that an ape programmed with 'Dredd's Comportment' would be a fun thing to read, with endless possibilities for parody. His first story was a field test for the Justice Department’s latest experiment in crime fighting. The second story was Harry being kitted out, given a Lawtrike (because all monkeys ride tricycles!) and accompanied by a modified Spy-In-Sky camera, 'Asimov'. Both episodes were brilliantly illustrated by Henry Flint and, in my opinion, still hold up well, mainly due to this fact - thanks Henry.
AW: Fast forward to Monkey Business in Megazine #376. We brought Harry Heston out of the small press and into mainstream canon, or at least a slightly different version of him. Tharg didn't think Justice Department would have an Ape Judge so we worked around that by making him a Judge Impersonator, one that worshiped Dredd but that would ultimately clash with him, resulting in him going to the cubes.
JL: Being that Harry was born in a fanzine, the idea of him becoming a 'JIMP' when he crossed over seemed like a great switch. It also allowed Arthur to really flesh him out with far more character than I could have hoped for - part Dredd, part Boy Scout, ALL ape!
AW: We had Heston out on a Cursed Earth work crew, working under some particularly nasty cube Judges. When muties raid the work camp he gets a chance to escape but instead saves a nearby town from escaped prisoners. Dredd turns up and is impressed, and at the end Hershey calls him and asks if Heston might be suitable for a special duty... and that brings us up to Krong Island!
Harry’s co-creator, Stuart Perkins, writing as WR Logan, was a lifelong Dredd fan. He worked for 2000 AD at the comic’s archives and served as an advisor to John Wagner on all things Judge Dredd. Indeed, that collaboration was repaid by Wagner with the creation of Judge Logan in various Dredd strips. Stewart’s dream was for Harry to get into official 2000 AD canon, and that dream came true in Megazine #376. Sadly, although Stewart knew of the upcoming strip, he passed away unexpectedly in May 2016, before its publication. How pleasing is it for you to be able to be bringing back Stewart’s creation?
JL: When we came up with him, we knew he was a funny character with a lot of potential and I was always miffed that he had such a short original run. Since Arthur's taken over he has given him a quality that we never would have thought of - heart. I truly believe that Stew would be very happy and proud to know how fondly our silly chimp-face has been received.
AW: Heston has been a joy to write. He was a favourite of mine from the comic and then the mainstream version has developed his own character and his own arc almost organically. I think we’ve been able to honour Stewart and give Harry his own distinct existence.
Can you let us know about Harry Heston's return to the Megazine in the four-part Krong Island is and how he fits into the tale?
AW: We first heard about Krong back in 2099, in Dredd's timeline, at a time when movies featuring giant live action robots had been driven out of business in favour of some dumb thing called “sensor-round”. Clearly there would be a revival at some point, and so you have Krong Island, a purpose built island to make the rebooted Krong movies on, and those were big for a while before public interest was lost again. But mostly now they just farm bananas there. It’s a very profitable business, growing bananas in a word where there’s a large population of uplifted apes.
JL: Krong Island also really opens up Harry's world. It's a far larger playground to monkey around in with a story to match.
Krong Island obviously brings to mind a certain other, rather bigger, ape. Are we going to be seeing Harry meet any of the famous residents of Skull Island in Krong Island?
AW: All similarities between Krong and other, more famous apes that have islands are almost entirely coincidental. Really, that Island is 99% banana plantations anyway. Are there larger mysteries and strange horrors afoot? Well, maybe, but that’s any island!
Looking back at Class of ’79 and its two issues, it’s no surprise to see some familiar names in the pages; PJ Holden, Rufus Dayglo, Henry Flint, John Hicklenton, Boo Cook, and Jake and Stewart of course. There’s always been an fanzine movement of comic writers and artists creating strips in homage to their favourite characters. Class of ’79 was possibly the first, but it continues to this day with the Zarjaz and Dogbreath fanzines. How important do you consider Class of ’79 and the whole unofficial fanzine movement to be?
JL: I'm not too sure about this, but I think '79 was the first. We were very lucky at the time, Andy Diggle was Assistant Editor and was in full support of us, providing info on how to move forward and blurb for the legal bit. I think fanzines offer contributors experience and are a nursery ground for future professionals. I'm aware that '79 seemed to have a very high 'crossover' rate for its contributors, but I think that was due to a lot of talented people finally having an outlet for their work. So are fanzines important? You better believe it, punk!
AW: I was part of the generation of fanzine makers that came along after Class of ‘79 and it was hugely influential in terms of giving an idea of what could be done. Also since it was such a mix of fans, creators and fans that went on to become creators for 2000 AD. I think a few FutureQuake readers and creators have gone on to be droids now, so the cycle continues!
What are your first memories of 2000 AD, whether that’s characters, strips, or writers/artists?
AW: The 1981 Judge Dredd annual, which had some shockingly good McMahon strips, and the 2000 AD monthlies. Glad that’s a tradition that is kind of sort of returning with the ultimate collection. I have strong memories of reading Sláine, The V.C.s and D.R. and Quinch that way.
JL: Yeah, McMahon is incredible. It's so wonderful being able to see the different periods of an artist style. My young memories of 2000 AD all sort of blur together. It was the energy of it, the pulsing Thrill-power. I think a great deal of that came from John Wagner, Alan Grant and, of course, Pat Mills. It exposed me to different ideas and showed me that the best creators aim for realities, not necessarily realism. It was my weekly thrill and I looked forward to every Saturday when my dad would go and pick it up. Oh, and that Alan Moore was a bit good wasn't he!?
What about a dream 2000 AD job?
AW: Not really sure. I really should do my own big space epic sometime or something, since I’ve done a lot of noodling around in the Judge Dredd world and gotten a Rogue Trooper-related strip under my belt.
JL: Drawing Judge Dredd IS my dream job! I'd quite like a go at Ro-Busters, but would like it to be short run and stripped down to its core - a punchy little rescue mission or something.