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.
“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.
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.
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…