The 2000 AD Sci-Fi Special is out now – 100 pages of thrills to celebrate the 20th anniversary of games developer Rebellion acquiring the Galaxy’s Greatest Comic!

Inside you’ll find classic archive strips and four very special team-up strips bringing the worlds of the old and the new 2000 AD crashing together with an overload of Summer Thrill Power! Want to know what happens when Zombo rocks up in MC-1? Want to see Gene the Hackman face-off with the blizzard of white-hot horror or Brit-Cit Judge Storm bring the thunder with intergalactic gladiator Blackhawk? You are definitely in the right place!

We’re talking to Ian Edginton and Steve Yeowell about their strip, where those Pirates of the Caribbean meet B-Movie horrors in Red Seas vs Ant Wars!

The 2000 AD Sci-Fi Special is available from all good newsagents and comic book stores, as well as 2000 AD’s webshop and apps!

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With the 2000 AD Summer Special this year, you’re responsible for bringing back one of your own strips, The Red Seas, last seen around these parts in 2013. But this time, Captain Jack Dancer and the crew of the Red Wench aren’t facing zombies, necromancers, or vengeful spirits. Instead, they’re off to an uncharted isle in the Caribbean looking for treasure but finding… well, I’ll let you tell the dear readers… so what can we expect in this latest Red Seas 10-pager?

Ian Edginton: As it’s just a stand-alone ten pager so we’ve tried to keep it brief and breezy, you don’t need to know all of the Red Seas back-story to enjoy it. In essence Jack and the boys plan to raid a secret emerald mine on an uncharted island only to find that there’s more than just Spanish troops guarding the goodies!

Steve Yeowell: All the usual Harryhausian mayhem…

Oh yes mutated super-intelligent insects on the rampage with a taste for human flesh… this one was fun to right I’m guessing?

IE: Absolutely! As well as bringing back Jack and the lads, crossing it over with Ant Wars was the icing on the cake. Red Seas has always featured sundry gods and monsters whether they’re Krakens, Harpies or armoured Brachiosaurs, so chucking giant, mutated ants into the mix wasn’t a great leap.

Was the original idea something that came from Matt? Did he come to you with an idea for just the Red Seas versus somebody, or was it Red Seas vs Ant Wars from the very start?

IE: Matt asked me if I’d like to do something for the Summer Special and ran a few ideas from crossovers by me. As soon as he said Red Seas vs Ants Wars though, I knew that was the one!

After Matt okayed the story outline, I wrote the story that same day, gave it a tweak the next day and off it went! I could do with more days like that! This one was a joy to write, it’s a fun, rollicking yarn but the best part was working with Steve again, so much so that we’ve been talking over ideas for some new projects. 

Like the other three strips here, there’s a huge sense of fun, wish-fulfilment going on, hopefully something the readers will really love.

IE: Exactly! It’s not War and Peace, it’s pirates and giant ants! What’s not to love?

I imagine something like this really takes you back to the old thrill of seeing the latest co-star in books such as the old Marvel Team-Up or DC’s Brave & The Bold titles?

IE: I never though of it that way but yes, it does!

SY: With its 1970s setting of the “present-day” scenes, I saw the story as an opportunity to pay homage to the British classics I grew up with, so fun and wish-fulfilment are there in equal measure!

Steve, it’s back to black and white for this strip, something your art suits so perfectly. The crisp, confident lines are a highlight of your work. Was there any particular reason for going b&w for this Red Seas vs Ant Wars strip?

SY: The decision to make the strip b&w was Mighty Tharg’s. I didn’t argue for fear of a Rigellian Hotshot!

Do you have a particular preference for working in b&w as opposed to colour, such as your Sinister Dexter work?

SY: I don’t have a particular preference and I approach the art in the same way in either circumstance.

I don’t think we’ve ever talked before about your process for your artwork before. So, how do you work – old school pens and board or is it all digital now and what steps so you go through to deliver that final artwork?

(Steve was kind enough here to send over some of the process images for this Red Seas vs Ant Wars – spectacular stuff!)

Steve’s roughs for the page

SY: I start an episode by working out the arrangement of panels for every page in stamp size thumbnails and move on from there to trading card size roughs – nothing too detailed, just establishing the relative positions of the cast, the action, horizon lines, perspectives etc.

Steve’s breakdowns of the crew going ashore

SY: Once I have a clear idea of where I’m going, I pencil the pages roughly 30% up from printed size (which fits conveniently on A3 paper) – blue pencil breakdowns first and then graphite finishes.

Pencil stage – Steve’s clean smooth style coming through!

SY: I scan the pencilled pages in to photoshop, take out the blue pencil under the graphite, which tidies up the pencils a bit, before printing them out in blue on heavier paper.

Then it’s conventional analogue inks, scan in and take out the blue line (again), and tidy the pages before uploading to 2000AD’s FTP site. I suppose the whole process is not quite analogue, not quite digital, more like digilogue…

Final inks added and page finished! The Steve Yeowell process complete!

Steve, you’re currently in the middle of the latest Sinister DexterBulletopia, is this one going to be the epic it feels like?

SY: It certainly is. Dan has a grand overall scheme for Bulletopia and intends tying up a lot of the plot threads of the past few years.

What can we expect from both of you in the future for 2000 AD & The Megazine? Or is there any other project you’d like to tell us more about?

SY: Bulletopia and, fingers crossed, more occasional Red Seas specials.

IE: I’ve just finished the next series of Stickleback with the redoubtable Mr Disraeli and I’m almost done with a new series of Fiends of the Eastern Front with the radiant Tiernen Trevallion. There’s also more Scarlet Traces and Kingmaker to come too!

Thanks so much to Ian and Steve for talking to us. Make sure you check out their tale of Pirates and Insects in this years’ 2000 AD Sci-Fi Special – available from all good newsagents and comic book stores”! Or get it from the 2000 AD web shop and apps.