Lee Robson is the writer of the graphic novel Babble and a frequent contributor to many British independent titles, including Zarjaz, Futurequake, the Strontium Dog-inspired Dogbreath, Something Wicked and several of Accent UK‘s themed anthologies. He’s also penned a series of online daily strips featuring 2000AD‘s Judge Dredd for FutureQuakePress, which are collected here.
David Broughton has created his own comics, such as the brilliant Shaman Kane, Spectre Show and Martillo. He has also drawn various comic strips for 2000AD fanzines Zarjaz, Dogbreath and other small press publications.
Here’s an item on how David and Lee tackled a new Strontium Dog story, “No Choice At All” for Dogbreath, published earlier this year…
“Way back in July 2012 I worked on a Judge Dredd story, ‘Big Jimping’ written by Lee Robson for the 2000AD fanzine Zarjaz,” Dave opens.. “When Dave Evans, the editor of Zarjaz and Dogbreath, sent me Lee’s script for Strontium Dog ‘No Choice at all’ I knew it was going to be a great story.”
“There’s no easy way to say this, so I’m just going to come out and say it,” confesses Lee Robson, “But I’m not a massive fan of Strontium Dog. But, when editor extraordinaire Bolt-01 asked me to contribute a couple of scripts to Dogbreath, I stupidly said yes…
“I knew going in that I wanted to take another crack at Durham Red,” he continues. “With my first attempt, back in Dogbreath Issue 27, I never really got the character right, so I wanted to try again, with something more simple and straightforward. Once I started to lay out the foundations of what became ‘Like A Dog’ for Issue 31, one plot beat kept niggling away at me: Durham was set up to become the unwitting star of a “snuff” vid. But who had set her up?
“I knew it had to be another S/D agent, but if it wasn’t a personal grudge (which – spoilers! – it’s not), then it would stand to reason that she wasn’t the only Stront that was set up. And if agents were being set up, then, surely, Johnny Alpha was the man to get to the bottom of it…
“Once I started to connect those dots, ‘No Choice At All’ started to come together…”
Creating the Story
“The idea was to set the story at the same time as ‘Like A Dog’, but also push away from the ‘Western in Space’ approach that I’d tried on my previous attempts at writing Alpha,” Lee continues. “This time, I decided, I’d set the whole thing in an urban environment and have Alpha on the run, because… Well, at the time, I didn’t know why he would be on the run. All I had was the idea of the story starting in the middle of a scene, with Alpha stranded on a ledge while the local police searched the room beyond. I knew I had to somehow connect that scene to the idea of Alpha trying to track down the traitor from The Doghouse, but I really couldn’t figure it out.
“After a lot of frustrating starts and stops, I finally managed to pull the story threads together – albeit very, very slowly – and started bridging all the gaps that would link the story to ‘Like A Dog’. My only problem was, I didn’t have an ending…
“By that, I mean – spoilers! – Alpha gets his man, but, the way the story unfolded, he was still wanted by the local police and trapped in an unfamiliar city, and I was running out of pages (I’d set myself a very rigid eight page target). So, I had to, basically, end it how I started it, in the middle of a scene.
“I was never completely happy with the ending I came up with, I’ll admit, but, by the time I got there, I was just glad to have the thing finished and submitted, and the lads at Zarjaz seemed to like it, so who was I to argue? Looking back it now, though, I kind of dig it…
“I got paired up with Paul Williams for ‘Like A Dog’ and David for ‘No Choice At All’. I’d worked with both of them before (both on Dredd tales for Zarjaz, oddly enough), and I knew both of them would bring their A Game, so I wouldn’t have to worry on that front. It’s fair to say, though, they both surprised me with what they came up with: Paul’s dynamic storytelling knocked me off my feet, and David came up with what has to be one of the best Strontium Dog designs I’ve ever seen, with the villainous Gil Gilman.
“From my perspective, it was an interesting experiment, trying to tell these two stories like that; it pushed me out of my comfort zone in more ways than one, and I learned a lot from trying it – mainly that I should never try it again…”
Rough Designs and Page Layouts
“As usual before starting the finished page artwork I read the script a couple of times and then go about creating rough page layouts and character designs,” David says of his approach to drawing the strip.
“Nobody can draw Johnny Alpha as good as his co-creator Carlos Ezquerra. In fact (in my humble opinion) artists hoping to get anywhere close drawing a good Johnny Alpha need to almost mimic Carlos’s style… at least for the face. This is something that I had stuck to when drawing Johnny for previous Dogbreath scripts. This time, I decided to have a go at a little redesign on Johnny’s helmet, his clothes and try and put a little more of my ‘take’ on Johnny’s face.
“This was a great script which was fun to draw,” says David. “Lee really knows his Johnny Alpha thats for sure – no matter what he claims.”
• Strontium Dog ‘No choice at all’ appears in Dogbreath #31, which can be bought online via the Futurequake online shop here
• Visit David Broughton’s blog (where this article first appeared) for more information and illustrations at dbroughton.blogspot.co.uk email him at firstname.lastname@example.org tweet to him on twitter at @DbroughtonDavid or visit his online comic shop at comicsy.co.uk/dbroughton
Strontium Dog and 2000AD © 2016 Rebellion Publishing Ltd.