6:00am PT by Graeme McMillan
'2000 AD' Publishers Reviving 2 Classic British Horror Comics This Halloween
This Halloween, two classic British horror comics are about to — somewhat fittingly — come back from the dead.
The upcoming Scream! & Misty Special will revive two anthology titles from the 1970s and '80s, originally published by IPC Media — a forerunner to today's Time Inc. UK — with all-new material from a mix of newcomers and established British creators, courtesy of 2000 AD publishers Rebellion.
The one-off release is the first new material using the IPC properties published by Rebellion since it acquired the back catalog from Egmont Publishing last year, and offers a tantalizing mix of nostalgia for British comics as-was and a possible vision of what could lie ahead. Heat Vision spoke to Rebellion's Keith Richardson, editor of the Special, about how the new title was put together.
Both Scream! and, especially, Misty are iconic titles for a certain generation of British comic readers. Rebellion has already dipped a toe in the waters of republishing and representing work from both series, but what was behind the idea of bringing both back with all-new material in this Halloween special?
It was always likely that after buying the old Egmont archive, that we would try and put some new material out. We had already under license released a collection of [early Alan Moore material] Monster and a Misty book that included the stories Moonchild and Four Faces of Eve. Both sold really well, so it was clear that there was still a lot of love for these old titles out there.
I thought that Scream! would be the the perfect choice for a Halloween Special, and our publishing manager suggested that we add Misty to the mix. Hopefully the special will please older fans and also catch the eye of a younger demographic who enjoy it so much that they go out and buy the reprint collections — also available digitally, kids!
I'm not sure about what the creators who worked on the original titles think about this new one off. Hopefully when it comes out they'll like it. Unfortunately, a lot of the great talent who made both of these titles so great are sadly no longer with us. [Artist] Jose Ortiz was sublime on "The Thirteenth Floor." Similarly, Shirley Bellwood's magnificent Misty covers are a large part of why that comic was so successful. She has been criminally overlooked by the comics industry.
It was always my intention to showcase new talent and use current creators who were fans of these comics back in the day. Their excitement and enthusiasm has conjured up some exceptional work.
So how did you choose what series to revive for this one-off? Similarly, how did you choose the creators? I suspect these answers will be connected, somehow.
Choosing the strips was easy: "The Thirteenth Floor" was an old favorite of mine. It was surreal, funny and a joy to look at. Having enjoyed the new "Ulysses Sweet" [strip] in 2000 AD, I knew that Guy Adams would be the right person to conjure up a new tale. Jose Ortiz was so good I had to replace him with two artists! John Stokes is another of those British comics veterans who has been sadly overlooked in recent years. What a unique talent. If you don't believe me, check out Marney the Fox or his old Marvel UK Captain Britain work. Frazer Irving has worked for all the top publishers and collaborated with the biggest writers, because he is a top-tier artist.
"The Dracula File" returns because, well, Dracula is the poster boy for the genre — the ultimate horror icon. Grainne McEntee's work over at Bounce Comics caught my eye at a con last year. She's one to watch for the future. I wanted this to look a little creepy and so I brought Tristan Jones on board. If you check out his work on Aliens: Defiance and you will see what I mean. Henry Flint's "Death-Man" strip brings in a variety of cool British comic characters from a number of different Egmont titles. Henry is on my Mount Rushmore of 2000 AD creators — one of the greats.
"Black Max" was the standout strip in Thunder and I thought that it would be a great fit for the special, so I asked Kek-W to resurrect the character for me. Kek loves these old British titles, especially "Black Max," so he was only too happy to be involved. Getting Simon Coleby on art duties was the icing on the cake. He's — justifiably so — in high demand, so it was touch and go for a while.
"The Sentinels" was arguably the best story ever published in Misty, and probably one of the most downbeat. It was downright scary and I knew I had to have a new "Sentinels" story in this comic. Now, no comic had given me a proper chill for a while, and then a few years ago I found Hannah Berry's Adamtine. She was my first choice to write this and thankfully she said yes. Ben Willsher's art is always striking and he can make the most mundane scene look interesting. He's done a cracking job on this — always puts in an extraordinary effort.
The final strip is a one-off like the kind of four-page twist ending stories you would find in [the original run of] Misty. "Fate of the Fairy Hunter" was written by Alec Worley — one of the most versatile writers in the business. He can turn his hand to anything, follows briefs to the letter, hits deadlines and most importantly, writes some bloody amazing stories! DaNi is an artist from Greece and my art talisman. So inventive, so atmospheric.... I adore her work and love working with her. She's another one who will hit it big in the next few years.
Is this the start of more revivals of Egmont properties? Depending on the response to this special, and the ongoing rollout of the Treasury of British Comics reprints, could people be seeing more returns from some other classic British weeklies in the future?
Hopefully this will be the first in a long line of revivals. If this one does well enough then it would be safe for one to assume that we will be doing more. I'm thinking a Battle & Oink! Summer Special might go down a storm….
The Scream! & Misty Special will be available digitally Oct. 18, and in comic book stores Nov. 1.