Prepare to guffaw and giggle your way through the all-new Cor!! & Buster Humour Special from the Treasury of British Comics – out now!
Taking the greatest comedy characters British comics has to offer, the new special bring old favourites into the 21st Century and is guaranteed to raise a smile!
Underneath Neil Googe’s cover, you’ll find some very famous characters, such as Sweeny Toddler, Faceache, and Frankie Stein, but you’ll also find some surprises. And in addition to drawing that great cover, Neil Googe provides the artistic delights for Deadly Headley, the number one vampire detective, alongside colourist Jim Boswell, from a story from Rebellion newcomer, Paul Goodenough.
Garlic at the ready…!
Hello Neil and Paul, first of all, how did you approach getting your teeth into Deadly Headley?
Neil Googe: It was basically finding anything I could on line to get a feel for the characters, and then trying to retain as much of that flavour as possible, especially with the cover. As much as I remember the comics from my childhood… that was some time ago, and while I instantly recognised names… my memory of what they looked like was very different from the reality of what they looked like!
Paul Goodenough: Well, at the risk of sounding very business-like, I did a horizon scan (the process of looking around at popular kid’s comics, shows, games and brands), and then I spent some time reading old Deadly Hedley strips and just asking myself what would Hedley be like if he was being created today. That’s an over-simplification of course, but basically I tried to balance the whimsy and affection of the original whilst giving the strip an updated voice. Children’s shows nowadays are fronted by delightful characters who kids want as friends (as opposed to seeing them as heroes or role models). If you watch shows like She-Ra, How To Train Your Dragon, The Amazing World of Gumball or Star V’s The Forces of Evil, you’ll see characters every bit as rich, silly, imaginative and interesting as those from adult shows – and sometimes, even more so. Even though we only had a two-page script, we both worked hard to give Hedley a new lease of life, and plant seeds of a new personality we can build on later.
How did the strip come about, was it something you went after?
NG: Editor Keith Richardson approached me. I’d just finished doing some work on 2018’s 2000 AD Regened, and a cover for the new all-ages Prog 2030 , so I guess he though it might be a good fit 🙂
PG: Keith and I were generally chatting as I’ve been keen to work on and re-imagine some Rebellion properties for a while, and he asked if I’d be up for pitching something for the humour special, and of course, I absolutely was.
With the Special, there’s all of these classic characters, created by revered artists. Did you find yourself a little nervous when sitting down to start the strip?
PG: Of course. Although I’ve worked on any number of high profile brands, and done a lot with ‘cherished’ brands – very few I’ve worked on have been left untouched for so long. So I, and we, had to make sure that we resonated with people’s long-term memories, not their short term opinions. But I’m rarely worried about anything for too long, so I just got on with writing a story that I hoped people would enjoy.
NG: Actually, at first, there was… until I started getting the reference material and realised a lot of the strips [I was featuring on the cover] had several artists over the years and each one drew the same characters very differently. Once I realised that, I relaxed a little.
How did you balance bringing your own twist or something new to the strips and yet still being true to the spirit of the originals?
PG: Actually, for me, that was quite normal. I’ve worked with loads of brands such as Warhammer, Beano, Sherlock, GI Joe etc where I’ve been given some latitude to come up with my own ideas, whilst retaining the core ‘voice’. My mantra is to really think through what I would want to read nowadays, and then inject moments that will hopefully delight fans of the original. There’s a few nods and winks in my strip to the original version – so hopefully they’ll get picked up by fans and bring a smile to their face.
NG: On Deadly Hedley, I decided I would take what I like most about the different approaches done previously, while trying to combine them into something more of my own work, but still try and retain that feel from the original books.
With the cover, when I looked at the reference, I tried to stick as closely as I could to what I personally remember of the comics as a kid.
So, you were reading them as a child? Did that mean you remembered the characters or was it something that meant some fun research?
NG: Yes, I was reading them as a kid… but had you asked me to name them a month or so ago, I couldn’t have, but as soon as I looked for the reference, I remembered them instantly.
PG: Very kind of you to ask, but yes, I’m plenty old enough to have read the originals. I may not have been quite born when they all originally were published, but I was close enough to the right age that I picked many up later. And over the years, I’ve built up a collection of over twenty thousand comics, so I’ve managed to fill most gaps now…
The Treasury of British Comics is bringing classic Brit comics back into print, but what do you think of what’s been done thus far and what are you particularly looking forward to seeing?
NG: Well, so far as I know, a lot of what I really remember from my childhood either hasn’t been reprinted yet, or has often been reprinted over the years. If I’m honest, I think Cor and Buster were what my grandparents used to buy me rather than something I really read… my childhood comic memories are really Judge Dredd, Starlord, British Marvel reprints… stuff like that.
PG: I’m like a slathering dog. I can’t get enough! It’s an exciting time for comics, but also one filled with potential dangers. There’s such a rich heritage of comics just waiting to be exploited, but I fear if the investment and audience-focus isn’t matched, we may not get another chance. So, for me, I really want to see someone do something new and bold with them and go new places and tell new stories. Similar (but not the same) to what Mark Millar did with the Ultimates, or what DC have done (a few times) with Teen Titans – give people a surprise, but with solid storytelling and a really imaginative and cohesive vision that everyone gets on board with. As for a favourite… I’d love to see a Storm Force remake!
The Cor!! & Buster Special is just a small part of getting kids reading comics, representing those classic strips in a way a modern, younger audience understands and gets. What are your thoughts on comics for children and how do you see things developing in the future?
NG: Well hopefully this will be a growing thing, with release of the all ages 2000 AD specials and with other companies doing similar things, it will be good to see comics back in the hands of younger audiences, and not just the collecting adult.
I understand the need for a more gritty comic for older audiences, times have changed and an older reader wants something a little more to their taste. But, I was starting to get frustrated with the lack of content for readers like my niece and nephew… And I was actually starting to question if I wanted to work in an industry where younger audiences should be able to enjoy the product being made, but seemed to be getting pushed out by what was in that content… so it makes me very happy to see this push toward all ages versions of certain books.
Where it will go… who knows… times have changed and comics feel less like a priority for children in an age of engaging entertainment on handheld devices and the like. But it would be nice to see comics reach those younger audiences in one way or another, so is nice to see companies trying.
PG: Let’s face it, most of us got into comics when we were children. People can get very uptight about beloved characters getting re-imagined for a younger audience, but that happened all the time when I was growing up. It’s normal, it’s natural, and it’s good for the brands to keep re-imagining themselves. In my opinion, the best thing to do is have a two-pronged approach, create new re-imagining for the younger audiences, that have loving nods and winks to the originals, and then make adult versions of beloved classics for the original audience. But that’s my take.
How did you make your way into comics and where else can we find your work?
NG: I harassed a lot of editors. I drew a lot and submitted, and submitted, and submitted until someone was desperate enough for an artist on a project to give me a break, just after that, 2000 AD gave me a try out on future shocks, and the rest is history!
My background is largely comics and game design. Worked on comics my whole career, getting my earliest breaks with Antarctic Press and 2000 AD,. Then I owned my own publishing company (with two other guys), Com.x, where I made my own comics and did a lot of concept work. From there I went over to Wildstorm and on to DC. Always working on and off with 2000 AD along the way… Probably most notably on Survival Geeks in recent years
PG: I’ve always been a fan. So for me, the move into comics was a long time coming. I’ve worked in TV and film for a long time, but I was eager to create comics because a) I love them, and b) they give the creators so much more license and immediacy than any other medium.
My break revolved around Simon Furman. I’ve always been a big fan of his work, and he was one of my major inspirations growing up and reading Transformers. So when I wanted to make the transition, I approached him and learned all I could from him (probably much to his annoyance). From this, I created a whole selection of ‘fan’ comics to test my skills. And once I had the scripts, I hired artists and letterers to give me a final ‘thing’ I could send editors and publishers. This also ensured I understood the whole process, and knew how to work with the creative team so that we would all get the best out of each other. I learned so much in a small space of time, and I’m eternally grateful for Simon’s help – because soon after he introduced me to Titan Comics, where we worked on How To Train Your Dragon together, and my career was started!
Most of my time is spent running my digital agency (www.aerian.com) which provides services create websites, apps and games. I also co-run a production company with Richard Bazley (Iron Giant, Hercules, Harry Potter) and until recently, Gary Kurtz (Star Wars, Dark Crystal) who unfortunately passed away last year. Outside of that, I also write and produce for a number of brands and shows, including British shows like Have I Got News For You and Newsjack, and international brands like GI Joe, Sherlock Holmes, Beano, Warhammer, Go Jetters and Peppa Pig. Annnnndddd… when I’m not doing that, I try to do as much as I can for the environment, working with people like BAFTA to change the way TV shows are made (you may see my product, Albert, listed after all major BBC Shows), Greenpeace, The Wildlife Trusts, Government and a number of sanctuaries to try and safeguard the planet and stop some of the widespread devastation.
And finally, who are your influences?
NG: Influences are far, wide and ranging… But off the top of my head, core ones would be Alphonse Mucha, Katsuhiro Otomo, Frank Quitely, Mike Mignola… my art looks nothing like any of them really… but they’re all in there somewhere… 😉
PG: I have so many. It really depends on the genre we’re talking about. For pure all out comics action, Simon Furman is my go-to guy. For brain-bruising originality, I love John Wagner and Alan Moore. For what appears to be (but no doubt isn’t) effortless storytelling, I’m in awe of Brian K Vaughan, Brian Michael Bendis and Garth Ennis, and lastly, for kick-me-where-it-hurts cinematography and direction, I love Guillermo Del Toro and David Fincher.
But, perhaps weirdly, if you ask me my two most memorable stories of last year – Russian Doll and She-Ra win hands down. Two amazing pieces of character storytelling. I simply adore them.