It’s jumping-on Prog time for 2000 AD, as the new Prog 2250 sees the debut of five new series, along with a couple of very special, very thrill-powered one-off tales. And one of these new series is another of those wonderful all-ages Regened strips making the jump from Regened to a full 2000 AD series – with Roger Langridge and Brett Parson’s Pandora Perfect starring in the new series, Mystery Moon.
First seen in 2000 AD Regened Prog 2196, with a second appearance in Prog 2233, Pandora Perez is Pandora Perfect… burglar, safe-cracker, armed bandit, all-round career criminal, and someone who just happens to look like some famous nanny you might have heard of… Mary something?
Now, with a new, full-length series, Mystery Moon, Pandora and loyal robot assistant Gort are out of jail and up to their usual tricks, heading off to the Moonsausage Factory and a meet-up with an old friend (of sorts) before heading off on another adventure, full of criminal capers as she heads off in search of a dazzling jewel to pilfer!
Roger, we’ve previously chatted about Pandora Perfect for her debut in 2000 AD Prog 2196, and she made a second appearance in Prog 2233. You described the strip this way – ‘Pandora Perfect is pretty much what you guessed – a sort of Mary Poppins Gone Wrong, a con-artist with a bag of tricks.’ And you also described how it was an idea you had of bringing something Harvey Kurtzman-esque to the pages of Regened, subverting ideas and creating something very much in the ethos of 2000 AD, but with that all-ages twist.
And now it’s time for Pandora to make the perfect jump to a full series, as the most practically perfect in every way lead gets a full series in Mystery Moon. So, what can we expect?
ROGER LANGRIDGE: More of the same, to some extent – Pandora and Gort get into a pickle while pursuing their nefarious lifestyle and have to get out of it. We get to meet an old associate of Pandora’s who’s gone legit (though, as it turns out, not as legit as all that), there’s a bit of light jewel robbery, and we find out where sausages really come from. With the extra pages we’re able to explore the relationship between Pandora and Gort a little more deeply, which gives the strip a bit of heart it might have been lacking up until now. And, of course, Brett Parson gets more room to shine, which can only be a good thing.
How many episodes will there be in Mystery Moon?
RL: It’s a six-parter. We get to do some good old-fashioned 2000 AD cliffhangers, hooray!
With something like Pandora Perfect, something that’s very much a gag-based strip, what sort of change in the writing is there with the change from the done-in-one Regened episodes to the multi-parter of Mystery Moon?
RL: As I mentioned, there’s a bit of room to flesh out Pandora and Gort’s friendship. And we can build up to things a bit more rather than having to get in and get out of a story quickly, so the pacing is a bit less frenetic. That said, I hope it’s still funny; I went for more humorous/bizarre scenarios and concepts rather than pure gags for this one, but humour is part of the flavour of the strip, so it really has to be there. (Brett’s style helps enormously in this regard – he really knows how to sell a funny idea.)
Does the switch to a full series mean a move away from the gag-heavy style to something more narrative based?
RL: There’s a more complex plot in Mystery Moon, certainly – a benefit of having the luxury of space to do that. And the stakes are a bit higher. A longer story seems to require a shift of gears.
Again, we’re getting to see more of Brett Parson on art for Pandora Perfect. No question here… just feel free to lavish effusive praise on the art!
RL: I’ve been a fan of Brett’s work since I first saw it – probably in Tank Girl, although I’ve seen some earlier work since then. His style is naturally funny and appealing, his storytelling is terrific, and it’s all got this wonderful kinetic feel to it – his energetic line and off-kilter compositions drag you through the page. Really couldn’t be happier about working with him.
Now, with something like Pandora, we’re playing up to the comedy stylings, something that doesn’t necessarily feature that often in 2000 AD. You’re also part of the triumvirate (now) of strips that have moved from Regened to 2000 AD proper, from one-offs to a full series, following Full Tilt Boogie and Department K.
What are your thoughts on how broad the scope of work in 2000 AD can and should be?
RL: Honestly, I think the variety of styles, approaches and tones is 2000 AD‘s secret sauce, the reason for its success and longevity. With most comics you’re getting a single course; 2000 AD gives you a full meal. I think it would be a lesser magazine if all the strips were trying to hit the same notes. There’s enough cohesion running through the variety that I think it still holds together as an anthology – most of the stories share the common ancestry of either being made by people who grew up on 2000 AD or who were actually there at the beginning, so that sort of makes it all gel together. But yeah, fully on board with having as much variety as possible.
And of course, it all comes together under that fabulous Mike McMahon cover!
RL: The thing about McMahon, the reason he’s the artist all the other artists admire so much, is that he’s so fearless about trying new things. It’s what makes him the artist he is. He’s utterly unafraid to push himself to try new things and experiment, and if you take that away you’re not getting the full McMahon experience. I think a single, stand-alone image is exactly the right place to push things stylistically. If it doesn’t 100% work, it’s cost you very little, compared to drawing a full story. (As it happens, I think that cover does 100% work. I think he achieved everything he set out to do with that one.)
And that’s it, thank you to the wonderful Roger Langridge for chatting about Pandora Perfect with us. You can follow along with her fabulous (and felonious) adventuring when Pandora Perfect: Mystery Moon begins in 2000 AD Prog 2250, coming to you from 22 September, wherever Thrill-Power is sold, newsagents, comic shops, and the 2000 AD web shop! Just look for the stunning Mike McMahon cover!