2000 AD Prog 2170 is out now, the first of four Regened issues for 2020. Since 2018, Regened has taken all those greats of 2000 AD and given them an all-ages spin.
Making a return this time, after his first Regened appearance in Prog 2130, is the greatest G.I. of all time, Rogue Trooper. So get ready for all-ages action as writer Cavan Scott and artist Nick Roche take us back down to Nu-Earth, as Rogue enters The Savage Swamp…
Cavan, Nick, in Prog 2170, you’re back with another Rogue Trooper tale for all-ages. Your first, in the 2019 Regened Prog 2130, was a great intro to the character, where all the familiar things older readers love about the character; Rogue on Nu-Earth, hunting the Norts, complete with his three Biochips, Gunnar, Bagman, and Helm.
You told a simple old-fashioned war story with that one, with Rogue getting captured by Nort General Frost, wanting to use the biochips to get access to the legendary Nort Keep.
Now, in Prog 2170, you return with Rogue in Savage Swamp.
Ok then, where are we at? What’s it all about?
Cavan Scott: Rogue is still hunting the Norts, his mission taking him into an irradiated swamp with vicious vines and toxic sinkholes. There he meets some survivors from the original Genetic Infantry programme, which hark back to one of my favourite Rogue Trooper stories, Milli-Com Memories way back in Prog 319.
Nick Roche: Rogue is in upbeat mood after passing the 1000 subscriber mark on his Twitch channel and getting a double-yolker in his runny egg that morning, so there’s a skip in his step and a song in his… oh.
No, my mistake. Continue.
My take on that first Rogue Trooper was that it was a perfect little sci-fi war tale, designed to be more like an old fashioned adventure, with the clearly defined good and bad guys, lots of action, and some very big robots – all the sorts of things that kids enjoy.
So, with this new strip, are we going in the same direction?
CS: There’s definitely lots of action. It made sense to set the story in a similar part of Rogue’s life. As for the well-defined bad-guys, well, the Norts are still there, but maybe there are a few shades of grey when it comes to the other antagonists.
NR: Amongst the grey area Cavan describes, there’s still a nice strong sense of ‘right and wrong’ in our story, with a lovely streak of justice running through the strip.
Rogue Trooper is one very dark idea, an apocalyptic wasteland, a lone trooper, a war that never ends. What adjustments have you had to make to bring it in line with Regened’s all-ages tag?
CS: Barely any to be honest. You have to be responsible when it comes to showing violence, but I tried to keep the tone and content similar to what we saw in those early Rogue Trooper stories.
NR: We’ve given him 1007 Twitch subscribers. AND a double-yolker.
And even though you’re writing and drawing it for that all-ages audience, are you still consciously putting in all the things that older readers, familiar with the character, will love?
CS: Absolutely. I think people immediately think that all-age means kiddie, but that’s wrong. It just means that everyone can enjoy it, both young and old. And, as I said, the inspiration for this particular story came from one of my favourite old-school Rogue stories, so there’s hopefully some nice little easter eggs in there to reward long-time Squaxx dek Thargo.
NR: You always remember being spoken (or written) down-to as a kid. But more than that, you remember the thrill of being addressed in a way that made you feel grown-up. And that’s our aim for new readers, to tell them -as 2000 AD has always has – ‘We know you can handle this. Come on board.’
What is it about Rogue that’s both a perfect concept that makes him one of the comic’s favourite characters and also allows it to be adjusted and altered for this all-ages audience?
CS: I think these types of stories are timeless. Kids like war stories. They like stories with action, humour and thrills. 2000 AD is the perfect playground for them.
NR: His nomadic nature means he brings as much or as little baggage as you need him to. So he lends himself well to long-form tales or tight little pick-upable chunks like our two (so far) Rogue tales.
Nick, in terms of the artistic design, how did you go about creating this new look for an iconic character?
NR: I think the trick is to keep everything that works, and whatever space is leftover, have fun with that. I tried to think in terms of an action figure, and gave some more boldness to the shapes of his tech and general silhouette, while also being mindful of staying true to Rogue’s classic look. I’ve always enjoyed how rangy and sinewy he appears, and that he’s not a bulked-up musclehead with shoulders the width of a bus. I tweaked him a tiny bit between the last Regened and this one; I scaled down the oversized gun and brought it more in line with its established proportions. I like my blasters chunky, and will not apologise for my (garish) tastes.
NR: I tend to lean into a cartoony look as my natural style, though I’ve always felt at home switching gears by altering the look of my art to suit and better tell the story. I guess I aimed to keep the look of our Rogue a little cleaner than his regular appearances, with bold lines, and nice straightforward layouts. It can be a tricky thing with the art, making sure you don’t leave behind the longterm readers while still trying to catch the new ones, but it feels like we’ve found a good groove. I think this second tale looks a little more like Regular Flavour Rogue, or at least less stylised than our first jaunt. It’ll be interesting to see what people prefer…!
This is now your second Rogue tale – any plans for more in future Regened?
CS: I have another Regened story in the works, but it’s not Rogue this time! I hope to return to Blue at some point, either for Regened or the regular Prog, but Tharg offered me another character I couldn’t resist!
NR: Nothing on the slate at this point, but I very much want to stay in Tharg’s good graces and come back for more of whatever he’ll have me for!
Regened has brought back some classic characters… any you’d really love to see given the all-ages Regened treatment?
CS: Judge Death! Seriously! A creepy all-ages take on the Dark Judges! It would be amazing.
NR: Ooh Judge Death, yesssss pleassssse…!
I’ll just revert to type here and say Robo-Hunter or ABC Warriors. (Though Indigo Prime might be fun too…)
Now, with Regened all about getting new and younger readers into comics, into 2000 AD, how about your own experiences of discovering both comics and 2000 AD?
CS: I started out on humour comics like the Beano, Nutty, Whoopee and Whizzer & Chips, coming to 2000 AD when I spotted it alongside a copy of Star Wars Weekly. Comics were my first true love, British comics especially. Like many, I moved to US comics over time, but I always kept coming back to the UK newsstand to pick up the latest Prog or other titles like Scream, Toxic and Crisis.
NR: British weekly newsstand comics are responsible for my love, and my having a career. From adoring Marvel UK’s Transformers (a great example of a comic that talked UP to its readers) through to Death’s Head, and then onto Overkill and back to 2000 AD when I was a teen, these titles were the only game in small Irish towns way back when.
And finally, what do you think about bringing new readers into comics in general and 2000 AD in particular?
CS: It’s vital. Without new readers the comic industry is sailing into troubled waters. We need to welcome new fans, throw gatekeepers into a toxic swamp and grow our fandom if we want to survive!
NR: I like it when they buy our books, but not when they grow up to take our jobs.
You’ll be able to get hold of the first 2000 AD Regened of 2019 as 2000 AD Prog 2170, a 48-page special on sale from newsagents, comic book stores, and online on 26 February 2020. Future Regened Progs will be Prog 2183, Prog 2196, and Prog 2206.
And as for the first episode of Rogue Trooper Regened, head to the 2000 AD shop to pick up 2000 AD Prog 2130, the Regened Prog from 2019.