FCBD INTERVIEW: Mandrills, voodoo mermaids, rabid geese and poo-bots

Henry Flint, Arthur Wyatt, and Pye Parr discuss the extra features in this year's 2000 AD title for Free Comic Book Day

1 year ago

With this year’s incredible 2000 AD Free Comic Book Day, Tharg has given up the reigns of the Galaxy’s Greatest Comic for just once. Instead, his little nephew has taken control, and along with the script and art droids at 2000 AD tower, they’ve turned 2000 AD into the fabulous, all-new, all-ages 2000 AD REGENED.

Alongside all the familiar names; Dredd, Strontium Dog, D.R. and Quinch, and Future Shocks, there are two extra strips ... because frankly, every children’s comic in existence, past, present or future, should always have a two-page centrespread game, and something on the subject of poo!

Richard Bruton tracked down the fiendish minds behind Chet Jetstream and The Intestinauts: Henry Flint, Arthur Wyatt, and Pye Parr...

Chet Jetstream: Hell Island finds the primate pilot marooned on Hell Island after escaping the clutches of a brood of zombie space squid. And as the strip says, “Only you dear reader (no, not the guy looking over your shoulder), can help the primate pilot escape”! It’s two pages of pulse-pounding adventure gaming with a Henry Flint twist!

Henry, you've been a mainstay of the 2000 AD FCBD issues for many years, whether it's with your excellent covers, the Zombo strips with Al Ewing, or your own individual strips. Exactly what is it that keeps drawing you back to the FCBD issue? Or is it perhaps you have something very incriminating on Tharg?

Henry Flint: Except for a few war crime links with Starlord I've nothing incriminating on Tharg.

Your piece here is part of the extras including in addition to the four main strips. The Chet Jetstream boardgame must have been a fun thing to develop. But the most important question I have to ask: did you field test it with your family?

HF: I've field tested it and no one could figure out how to play it which in my book is a success.

It might only be two pages, but the work involved in coming up with the ideas, and then making sure the whole thing worked must have been huge. At what point in the thing did you decide you were never doing something like this ever again?

HF: Right from the beginning. If I had to do it again I'd do snakes and ladders and finish it in one afternoon.

Ok, what's your problem with birds anyway? Vampires, spiders, flies, cannibals, howling scarecrows, voodoo mermaids... all of these things I think we can all get behind as scary. But telepathic ravens and rabid geese? Is there some deep rooted childhood fear coming out here?

HF: I almost did a plague of ladybirds which I did experience first hand in Lincolnshire 1976... I made dead ladybird sandcastles.

Any plans for more Chet Jetstream? After all, 2000 AD needs more Mandrill space pilots!

HF: No plans at the moment. Chet has a small gambling problem. Best leave him to reach rock bottom before offering him a new adventure, that way he'll do it cheap.

Intestinauts started as a Future Shock in 2000 AD Prog 1822, but very sensibly, Arthur Wyatt and Pye Parr decided that the most important thing missing from 2000 AD REGENED was poop, and that they had just the strip for that! So, it’s welcome once more to Intestolab Biotech, where the latest innovations in stomach defence comes in the microscopic shape of the Intestinauts. So when you next scarf down an underheated Venusian Vindaloo, have the Intestinauts at the ready! Tackles all known instances of cramps, tapeworms, amoebic dysentry, quantum reamlice, and thrill-suckers.

It might only be a single page, but you've certainly managed to sneak a bit of gross-out comedy into 2000 AD REGENED with the Intestinauts. How much fun was it to introduce younger readers to the dangers of an underheated Venusian Vindaloo?

Arthur Wyatt: The side-note on the Vindaloo was particularly fun as we got to emphasise food safety AND throw in some real world science facts about surface conditions on the planet Venus - who knows, they might come in handy.

Pye Parr: I always gain the same amount of enjoyment from poo jokes as the average four-10 year old, so LOTS.

Given the nature of the idea, was the temptation there to go a little ruder and exactly how did you avoid making any really obvious poop gags?

AW: It’s a tricky one, especially when my kids find all things poop related utterly hilarious. Older readers worried about the all-ages REGENED being too tame can be reassured that, since it’s set in a colon, it’s inherently one of the most scatalogical Thrills that 2000 AD has ever run. We do have a big CENSORED over one panel, thus implying **Extreme rudeness** in a way that’s sure to be appealing to readers of all ages.

PP: The idea/anecdote of someone shitting themselves is always a lot funnier than the reality, so I think you've got to leave a little to the imagination, or it just becomes revolting and weirdly medical rather than amusing and slapstick. As we based this story on a Future Shock we did a few years ago that most of the readers won’t have read, it made more sense to slightly retread some old ground.

Intestinauts... your own particular 2000 AD twist on the classic "The Numbskulls" in The Beezer! Although I'm sure there are plenty of younger readers who think the whole idea began with Pixar's Inside Out. Was this classic strip an inspiration for Intestinauts?

PP: Not directly, but I seem to remember we both mentioned The Numbskulls before we did the original story. I think the idea sprang from a joke Arthur made about some monstrous reheated Frankenstein e-coli meal I’d made myself from leftovers when my wife was away that I was convinced was going to kill me (it didn’t). 

AW: Probably at the back of our minds - especially for the story in the FCBD Prog with its cross section. I was probably thinking a little more of Fantastic Voyage - a childhood fave of mine.

And finally, how does it feel to possibly be the ones who stimulate young minds to look up Amoebic Dysentry online for the very first time?

PP: HaHa! Proud!

AW: Along with the facts on the surface conditions of Venus I see this as us fulfilling our duty to inform and entertain young minds. Who knows, maybe someone will grow up to combine the two and breed high-pressure super amoebas for terraforming purposes.

Finally Pye, seeing as this is the first time you’ve been here on the 2000 AD blog, a few of the questions from interview questions 101... What are your first memories of reading 2000 AD? And what brings you its hallowed pages?

PP: Yeah, I read from about age 12, so started around the Prog 700ish mark. My main memory was that the Prog was 52p a week back then, but I only got 50p pocket money, so I had to periodically sit in WHSmiths to read the ones I couldn't afford!

As for how I got here... I started as a junior designer on 2000 AD back in 2002, and have just kind of hung around ever since. I'm a graphic designer really, and worked at 2000 AD until I went freelance three years ago. I do whatever people pay me to do, but the main comic stuff I've done is a few covers for the Prog/Meg, the Intestinauts Future Shock this story is a sequel to, and Realm of the Damned, a black metal Horror comic written by Alec Worley that we're working on the third book of right now!

 Free Comic Book Day is on 5th May. For more details visit the FCBD site...