The 2020 2000 AD Sci-Fi Special marks the 20th anniversary of games developer Rebellion acquiring the Galaxy’s Greatest Comic – so it’s a birthday celebration of 100 pages of Summer Thrill Power!

Alongside classic tales from the Rebellion era archive, you’ll find four very special new strips, all featuring a classic 2000 AD character up against someone or something from the Rebellion era. So look out for Dan Abnett and Richard Elson with Kingdom Vs Shako, John Reppion and Clint Langley with Storm Warning vs Blackhawk, and Ian Edginton and Steve Yeowell with The Red Seas vs Ant Wars.

But it wouldn’t be 2000 AD without Judge Dredd – so writer Al Ewing and artist Jake Lynch bring us Judge Dredd : The Immigrant. We chatted with Jake about a fabulously funny opener where Dredd finally gets to meet Zombo. Unfortunately, Al was off doing huge things over at Marvel at the time and couldn’t get involved – but we don’t hold that against him, we’re too busy reading his rather marvellous books!

The 2000 AD Sci-Fi Special is available now from all good newsagents and comic book stores, and the 2000 AD webshop and apps!

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2000 AD Sci-Fi Special – cover by Jock

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Okay then, Jake, hello. Hope you and yours are all doing all right in the continuing viral plague and lockdown, wherever you are.

Jake Lynch: Thank you, you too, it’s been a bit of a challenging time but we’re all adapting as best we can. I’ve taken time out from loading the Wickerman to do this, but must hurry – Immorten Bob is turning on his outside tap shortly and I’ve lost my bucket.

In this years’ Sci-Fi Special, you’re opening the show in spectacular style, bringing Dredd face to face with that most weird and wonderful character… Zombo, as created by Henry Flint and Al. There’s no Henry this time round, but you’ve done a wonderful job standing in for the original Mr Scribbly. 

So, Mr Scribbly part two, how did the strip come about?

JL: Henry (and I’ve heard this a few times now) is working on something big for next year and is fully tied up. I’d just come off Henry’s Hell Machine strip for the Action Special and Matt kindly offered the strip to me. Which was properly intimidating as I love Zombo and Al’s storytelling.

Oh yes, don’t we all!

Have to say, I particularly loved this one. It gave me a much-needed laugh during these most trying of times.

JL: Me too! I’d never read one of Al’s scripts before and was not disappointed.

Detention Block 100 – we’ve seen two of the detainees (Zombo and the second surprise special guest on the final page), but the idea of dimensional immigrants being held on entry to MC-1 just lends itself to being able to bring anyone or anything you want to Dredd’s world. So, can you see a new series… ‘Who’s in Detention Block 100 This Week?‘ – I nominate Nemesis, Dr Strange, and Doctor Manhattan first. Any takers?

JL: Well, I’m game!

Also… has this 10-pager just set up the ‘Secret Crisis on Infinite Wars‘ storyline for a future Dredd? I see it as 100 episodes, featuring every hero and villain ever to appear in the Prog, battling for the fate of all galaxies!!!!

JL: I’m glad that you’ve set your expectations low…

But more importantly – U-Fronts or Y-Fronts?

JL: NO FRONTS!!

Well, there’s an image seared into my mind now!

Jake, your Dredd really has come into his own in recent years, with your art having a wonderful angular style, reminiscent at times of McMahon himself. How do you see your art style and how would you describe the change in it over the years – Is it an organic change in styles or something you deliberately set out to achieve?

JL: Wow, thank you, that’s a very kind thing to say. I’d say it’s definitely organic with a bit of judgement thrown in. I can’t really express how my style has changed as I never have the nerve to revisit the old stuff! But it feels a little more consistent and fuller. I still reckon its got a ways to go before it mutates again, but it’s getting there!

I also think it comes down to a good writer, making you laugh, engaging you and making you want to pull off those interesting angles! I can be quite ‘reactive’ so it’s always a pleasure to get something like Al’s script that you can fall into.

As for the Dredd vs Zombo art, it strikes me that you’re responsible, with the beats of the panels, for delivering so much of the comedy here.

JL: Nah, that’s all Al, it’s in the script. It’s one of the reasons comics are so fun because it’s collaborative in that respect – his gags, my angles! However, I’m happy to take any credit going spare so yeah, it’s all me, baby, I’m comedy gold!

Also, great use of those multiple Dredd heads – perfect stoney-face. 

JL: Yup, all Al again (I was chuckling away as I was doing that one too!). He’s working hard to make me look gooood….

And finally, any insight as to when we might see more Zombo in the pages of the Prog?

JL: Yeah, enough with the teasing, when’s the main event, Al!?

Thanks so much to Jake for talking to us. You can find the tale of Mr Helmet and the funny green thingy 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.