It’s time to get Regened again, as the all-ages 2000 AD Prog 2256 lands on newsstands – featuring a new tale of Cadet Dredd, a particularly twisty and turny Time Twisters, the return of Middenface McNulty and his granny’s very special mutt, Dougal in Strontium Dug, and two completely new tales – Scooter & Jinx by James Peaty and Steve Roberts, and an eco-nightmare of a world turned against humanity in Enemy Earth by Cavan Scott and Luke Horsman.
And it was my pleasure to catch up with both Cavan Scott and Luke Horsman recently to talk about Enemy Earth…
So, Cavan, Luke, lovely to talk to you here – hopefully, both of you are keeping safe, sane, and well after the fun of these Covid times.
It’s nearly time for the final 2000 AD Regened Prog of the year – coming out on 3 November – 2000 AD Regened Prog 2256.
And inside, you’re bringing us a completely new strip – Enemy Earth.
With new strips, there’s very little for me to go on – so… what’s Enemy Earth all about. I’m assuming, given the title and the teaser art, we’re looking at some disaster future tale of an Earth where humanity is under threat… that sort of thing? Anywhere near?
CAVAN SCOTT: Bang on the money. Enemy Earth is a post-apocalyptic story that starts a number of years after the flora and fauna of earth has mutated, turning on the humans. Suddenly our home is trying to kill us in as many ways as possible.
And I’m assuming it’s something set away from existing 2000 AD worlds… not part of Dredd or Rogue Trooper or anything like that?
CS: That’s right. Something absolutely new.
Is this something that was pitched, or did Matt or Keith come to you in particular for the strip?
CS: The idea originally came from Keith Richardson, who was the editor of 2000 AD Regened before it was folded into the main Prog. It dates back to August 2018 where I received a basic brief for the series and was asked to develop it as a three-parter, back when Regened was going to be a comic in its own right. I submitted the breakdown but it was shelved when Regened started individual takeover issues and I was asked to write Rogue Trooper instead. Fast forward to earlier this year and I came upon that breakdown and dropped Matt a line saying ‘you know, there’s still something in this…”
The big problem with new strips is always that it’s a hell of a lot of lead-in work for a one-off strip – although obviously there’s always the idea in the back of your heads (I’m sure) to structure it so there’s the possibility of returning to the world you’ve created.
CS: We’re definitely looking at this being the pilot for a new returning strip.
Luke, does the new strip mean a shift in your art at all?
LUKE HORSMAN: No shift in work at all from my side.
Again, looking at the teaser image I have of it, I’m getting some sort of horror vibe of it all, or at least peril – but that’s something that I’ve always thought is absolutely essential for kids to experience.
LH: Oh, definitely some light-hearted peril, for sure.
I can remember loving all sorts of scary stuff as a kid – the Fighting Fantasy books, Dr Who on the TV, Alan Garner books, that sort of thing and I’m guessing you’re both of the same mind when it comes to giving the kids a damn good scare?
CS: Absolutely. I think Keith originally came to me because of the work I’d been doing writing all-age horror for Star Wars: Tales from Vader’s Castle, which is the annual Halloween event I’ve been writing for IDW for the last few years. We’ve been re-interpreting classic horror movies in the Star Wars galaxy – riffing on the Wicker Man with Ewoks for example, or turning Count Dooku into Count Dracula. Lucasfilm has allowed me to get quite scary in those, which is something we’re keen to do here too.
LH: I do love a good horror comic, and I certainly love adding a little darkness to a cartoon. Makes for some fun pages.
And I suppose that feeds into 2000 AD as well? When it started off, we had the likes of 2000 AD, Action, Scream! and others all telling stories to kids and grown-ups alike.
But over the years it’s changed – the whole comics aren’t for kids thing that just went too far in so many ways, resulting in kids practically being excluded from comics.
CS: I couldn’t agree more. We need more gateway comics to ensure the future of fandom. It’s as simple as that.
So we have Regened bringing some of that original all-ages vibe back to 2000 AD.
With both of you having contributed to Regened Progs with Rogue Trooper & Anderson (Cavan), and Cadet Dredd, Action Pact, and Future Shocks (Luke), have you got some insights into the way that Regened has changed and shifted since that first Prog back in 2018 for FCBD?
Personally, I think it’s actually shifted quite a lot from a very all-ages thing, embracing a sort of Ben-10 vibe in some ways, to something that feels a little more edgy, a little darker, and willing to go into the sorts of territory that we read as kids (well, at least myself and Cavan – we’re a similar age – Luke, I think you’ve got the benefit of youth on us both!)
LH: Heh, if you call 40 youthful , I’ll take it!..
Oh yes, when we’re looking closer at 50… it’s definitely youthful!
LH: I think Regened is definitely becoming a more varied series that everyone can enjoy. While I generally draw and enjoy fairly cartoony work, I like to think my style sits in the middle somewhere.
CS: To be honest, my attitude has been the same throughout: to write scripts that are truly all-ages, ie. that can be enjoyed by kids and adults alike. Sure, perhaps you dial back on some of the gore, but stories are stories no matter who you’re writing for. Kids don’t like to be talked down to when reading comics. They want stuff that is going to challenge them as well as entertain. That’s what I’ve been trying to do with my Regened stories.
What were your own experiences of getting into comics as readers?
CS: Like a lot of Brits, I started with the likes of Beano, Nutty, and Whizzer & Chips, before discovering the wealth of titles Marvel UK was putting out in the late 70s / early 80s. And, of course, it wasn’t long before I picked up things like 2000 AD and Scream!, the latter really leaning into my life-long love of horror and monsters.
LH: The very first comics I read that I bought myself were issues of Commando. I loved absorbing those short war stories in those lovely little compact format books. Those and the Eagle & 2000 AD of course.
And how do you see the future of comics – do you think that the industry is moving into a good place for that future as far as engaging with younger readers?
CS: I think we’re seeing movement in the right direction, especially as traditional publishers have started to embrace graphic novels and, on the other side of the pond, more and more publishers launching middle grade and YA lines. DC has been doing a lot of great work in this area in particular, with junior versions of everything from Wonder Woman to John Constantine. But we need to push things further, making it easy for kids to get their hands on comics, which means that we also need to get schools, librarians, teachers, and book-sellers on board.
LH: I think the industry is still very strong and the readership is very varied indeed. I work a lot in the Indie comics industry and I see a vast amount of books aimed at the full spectrum of ages. People can’t get enough of comics these days. I hope it continues.
And with more Regened coming in 2022 and beyond – and of course the new Monster Fun comic, which I know you’re involved with, Cavan – what characters and strips would you love to play a part in bringing into either Regened or Monster Fun and delighting the kids with?
CS: Well, I’m really pleased to be writing Frankie Stein for Monster Fun, a character I loved as a kid and one I think will transfer well to modern readers too. As for Regened, well, I’m hoping that we’ll see Enemy Earth running for a while yet.
Finally, what’s coming up for both of you?
LH: I’m currently working on another Cadet Dredd strip for a future Regened issue. Along with a myriad of indy books, Ennead: The Rule of Nine being one. An epic, high fantasy adventure romp.
CS: I’m currently writing Star Wars: The High Republic for Marvel, Titans United for DC and Shadow Service, my own creator-owned book for Vault. There are a few secret projects progressing in the background, both for the big two and more creator-owned work and I’m currently developing a number of television shows.
And with that, we had to let both Cavan and Luke get back to their work! After all, Tharg doesn’t allow the droids to take too much time away from slaving away over making great comics… although how he feels about both Luke and Cavan working on other strips… last we heard, he was marching down to the droid
cells work-area muttering about how the 15 minutes a day they get for free-time was obviously being abused.
You can find the first episode of Enemy Earth in 2000 AD Regened Prog 2256 on the shelves in your local newsagents and comic shops, as well as in the 2000 AD web shop from 3 November.