“Rourke of the Radlands” returns after years in the wilderness

Rourke of the Radlands: The Wand 2016
The recoloured “Rourke of the Radlands: The Wand”, set to appear in 100% Biodegradable soon. Art by Liam Sharp, colour by Brett Burbridge

The SF fantasy character “Rourke of the Radlands” co-created by myself, John Freeman, and Wonder Woman artist Liam Sharp, first published in the largely creator-owned Marvel UK title STRIP, is about to get a new lease of life in the digital anthology 100% Biodegradable.

Edited by Dan Abnett, STRIP, launched in February 1990, was a fortnightly comic that ran for 20 issues, offering a mix of European reprint, including “Storm” by Don Lawrence, and new, creator-owned material such as “The Chronicles of Genghis Grimtoad” by John Wagner, Alan Grant and Ian Gibson. Later issues featured the Death’s Head story “The Body in Question” by Simon Furman and Geoff Senior.

A Marvel UK title with a firm eye on EPIC and DC Comics Vertigo, it also included a number of one-shot tales, intended to test the character for possible longform mini-series, also edited by Dan.

STRIP Issue 4 cover art by Liam Sharp
STRIP Issue 4 cover art by Liam Sharp

“Rourke of the Radlands: The Wand” appeared in STRIP Issue 4, originally coloured by Steve White. The character proved popular enough with the STRIP audience to prompt plans for a mini-series, which went through several permutations before management changes pushed Marvel UK in a different direction, away from creator-owned material – but not before Editorial Director Paul Neary and CEO Vincent Conran confirmed in writing with all those who’d created characters published in STRIP that they owned all rights to them.

Liam Sharp's faxes, sent to John Freeman featuring ideas for a proposed Marvel UK mini series featuring Rourke, Monark Starstalker and Wolverine.
Liam Sharp’s faxes, sent to John Freeman featuring ideas for a proposed Marvel UK mini series featuring Rourke, Monark Starstalker and Wolverine.

I’m glad now that Rourke escaped Marvel’s clutches – even though my plans for a crossover with Wolverine and Monark Starstalker (a character created by Howard Chaykin) would have been fun to do, but would have seen the feisty warrior become Marvel property.

Although the mini-series never happened, Liam’s designs caught the attention of incoming Marvel UK Editorial Director Paul Neary (after I pushed them under his nose) and prompted Paul to bring Liam on board to create the all-new Death’s Head II – the company’s most successful Marvel Universe character, which helped spur the way forward to the Genesis 1992 projects that included Warheads, Motormouth and more.

With much appreciated initial input from Liam and colourist Laura Martin, Brett Burbridge is re-colouring “The Wand” for its appearance in 100% Biodegradable.

The re-presentation of “The Wand” is hopefully just the start of further Rourke tales set in a dangerous world where technology is seen as magic and a race of bizarre reptiles have a sinister agenda, vying for power against a cabal of insane magicians. Bill Storie, perhaps best known at present for his work on an all-new “Garth” story that’s set to resume soon on the official Garth Facebook page is currently working on a new short story written by David Hailwood, “Fool’s Gold”, which also sets the scene for future tales.

Rourke of the Radlands: Fool's Gold S1

Rourke of the Radlands: Fool's Gold S2

Rourke of the Radlands: Fool's Gold S3
Pencils for the upcoming “Rourke of the Radlands: Fool’s Gold”. Art by Bill Storie

In the new stories, we’ll see how Rourke became a cross time warrior, cast adrift from her own world. Aided by her psychometric skills, you’ll find out (eventually!) came to be at the side of “Miranda Smith” seen in “Death Duty”, which recently featured in 100% Biodegradable , one of the ancient Keepers and a force for good…

I hope you’ll join us for the ride…

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John Freeman

The founder of downthetubes, John describes himself as is a "freelance comics operative", currently working as a freelance editor for TITAN COMICS, as Creative Consultant on the new DAN DARE audio adventures for B7 Media, and on promotional work for the LAKES INTERNATIONAL COMIC ART FESTIVAL and LANCASTER COMICS DAY. John has worked in British comics publishing for over 30 years, starting out at Marvel UK, where he edited a number of the Genesis 1992 books with Paul Neary. His numerous credits include editor of titles such as Doctor Who Magazine at Marvel and Star Trek Magazine and Babylon 5 Magazine at Titan Magazines, where he was Managing Editor. He also edited STRIP Magazine and worked as an editor on several audio comics for ROK Comics, including TEAM M.O.B.I.L.E. and THE BEATLES STORY. Most recently he is writing CRUCIBLE as a creator-owned project with 2000AD artist Smuzz, published on Tapastic; and DEATH DUTY and SKOW DOGS with Dave Hailwood for the digital comic 100% Biodegradable.

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