John Stokes interviewed in Judge Dredd Megazine, classic strip “The Lawless Touch” from Tornado reprinted 

Judge Dredd Megazine 387 - Cover

We’ve already trailed this week’s 2000AD – but don’t forget Judge Dredd Megazine (Issue 387) is on sale now, with a plethora of great strips – “Judge Dredd”, “Anderson – Psi Divison”, “Havn”, “Dredd” and “The Dark Judges”.

The issue also includes a smashing interview with veteran comics artist John Stokes, who returns to comics this October with work in the new Scream & Misty Halloween Special, and a collection of his “Marney the Fox“, written by Scott M Goodall MBE, out next month, a strip that featured in Buster from 1974 to 1976.

Marney the Fox - Final CoverStokes reveals he’s delighted to see Marney the Fox back in print as part of Rebellion’s new Treasury of British Comics line, revealing the story was entirely Scott’s who the artist never met.

“It remains one of my favourite stories,” Stokes tells Karl Stock. “I thoroughly enjoyed drawing it, it was one of those jobs where I thought, ‘Oh, I’ll just take a few more hours, I don’t have to go to the post yet.’ I’d put a bit more wildlife in, a few more leaves and some more background detail. It’s wonderful that it’s been picked out and it’s being shown again.”

Having just leafed through an advance copy myself, the passion he put into the strip is clear on every page, and I’d urge you to take a look when copies hit your local book or comic shop.

Incredibly, John never actually met Scott during the writing of the strip.

“I just got the pages through the post with not a lot of explanation about what he wanted,” he says. “The business was so different then, you wouldn’t believe… there were no fanzines, nobody knew the names of the artists, nobody was credited, and consequently we didn’t know who each other were. We were like little secret cells working away wherever we happened to be, and posting our stuff in without any sort of feedback whatsoever.”

It’s a wonderful and wide-ranging interview, covering much of his career from his long run on “Fishboy” for Buster, also written for the most part by Scott, through to his work for Marvel UK, noting how much he enjoyed working on “Black Knight“, initially for Hulk Weekly, through to his work for US publishers, including Nocturne with Dan Abnett for Marvel, and 2000AD, of course.

Stokes will return to comics this autumn in 2000AD’s Scream & Misty Halloween Special, illustrating the opening and closing pages of a brand-new “The Thirteenth Floor” one-off written by Guy Adams (with Frazer Irving drawing the middle section).

Star Trek: The Classic UK Comics Volume 3 - CoverIf you’re in the mood for more John Stokes, then his work also features in Star Trek: The Classic UK Comics Volume 3, the latest collection of the British Star Trek comics, reprinting all comics from 1972 to 1979.

Stokes recalls it wasn’t the easiest of jobs in an age where there was no home recording, no DVDs or internet.

“There was such difficulty in finding reference, because of course it was pre-Internet,” he says. “… Drawing something like Star Trek was a nightmare – there was one paperback book about Gene Roddenberry with a few photographs in it which I found, other than that I used to have to comb through the Radio Times to get likenesses. It was such a different world.”

Also interviewed this issue is Liam Sharp, talking about his “Judge Dredd to Wonder Woman” exhibition which runs at the Derby Museum and Art Gallery until 3rd September 2017, and his work on Wonder Woman as well as the Madefire digital project which continues to go from strength to strength, with DC Comics joining the platform this week.

While his next DC assignment has yet to be announced, Sharp tells Stephen Jewell that he would welcome a return to the Galaxy’s Greatest Comic at some stage.

“I absolutely love 2000AD,” he says. “I don’t think you ever stop being fond of that comic, its characters and all the associated history. We’ve all got a series in our head that we’d like to do. I’d also jump at the chance to draw Judge Dredd again, and if there was ever an opportunity for me to do a Sláine story, I would try to move heaven and earth to do so.”

Alongside the regular strips there’s of course the supplement and it’s great to see Rebellion is exploiting its archive with a collection of the never before reprinted story “The Lawless Touch” from Tornado issues 11 to 22, plus a short story from the Tornado Annual 1981. As with titles like JET and THUNDER (also now owned by Rebellion, Tornado was a “Hatch, Match and Dispatch” title lasting just 22 issues before merging with 2000AD in Prog 129 in September 1979.

Created by Tornado‘s launch editor Kelvin Gosnell and Barrie Mitchell (wrongly credited as “Barry” in the supplement credits, unfortunately), this modern crime caper with stories also by Steve MacManus (who we have just interviewed) and R. Tufnell, with art by John Cooper, John Higgins, John Richardson and Mike White.

We’re told we can expect more lost classics from the Egmont archive to appear as part of the Judge Dredd Megazine title in future, which is welcome news, as some fondly-remembered tales that ran in the “Hatch” titles – publications deliberately launched with intent to merge them with a similar title in the hope they’d help lift the circulation of the surviving, fitter one – are too short to appear in hardcover collection. “Black Max” from THUNDER springs to mind here, for example, another strip getting a spot in the Scream & Misty Halloween Special soon.

 

Judge Dredd Megazine is on sale now in all good newsagents, some bad ones and all good comic shops. You can also order it online from stores such as Forbidden Planet

Judge Dredd Megazine 387 - Judge DreddJUDGE DREDD: PLATINUM WEDNESDAY

Mega-City One, 2139 AD. This vast urban hell on the east coast of post-apocalyptic North America is home to over 72 million citizens. Unemployment is near-total, boredom universal, and crime is rampant. Tensions run a constant knife-edge, and stemming the chaos are the Judges, empowered to dispense instant justice. Toughest of them all is Judge Dredd – he is the Law!

Judge Dredd Megazine 387 - Anderson

ANDERSON, PSI-DIVISION – NWO

Mega-City One, 2139 AD. Psi-Div is a section that specialises in Judges with accentuated psychic talents – from precognition to exorcism, it is at the forefront in the war against supernatural crime. Cass Anderson is Justice Dept’s top telepath, and following a discovery of a secret society living in the Cursed Earth, the agents of the Dragon are making their move…

Judge Dredd Megazine 387 -HAVN

HAVN PART SIX

Nu-Iceland, 2139 AD. HAVN is a hermetically sealed community with an artificially sustained environment, all controlled by the computer network ASKJA. There is little crime in HAVN, and those lucky enough to live within it walls want for nothing. Native Alfar Abby teamed up with Judge Hoffman to discover what the mayor was up to, and discovered HAVN is an illusion…

Judge Dredd Megazine 387 - Dredd FuriesDREDD FURIES

Mega-City One, the cusp of the 22nd century. Eight hundred million people are living in the ruin of the old world, a planet devastated by atomic war. Only one thing fighting for order in a metropolis teetering on the brink of chaos – the men and women of the Hall of Justice. Following the events in Peach Trees block, and Ma-Ma’s death, the clan Techie has been dragged into a heist…

Judge Dredd Megazine 387 - Dominion

THE DARK JUDGES DOMINION

On a remote Mega-City colony world, cargo ship the Solips has just landed, having journeyed from Earth with much-needed supplies. Commander Bundy and science officer Riggins state that the rest of the crew are in quarantine, having picked up a virus – little do the colonists know that Bundy and Riggins are possessed by the spirits of Judges Death and Fire…

THE LAWLESS TOUCH – FROM TORNADO

This story by Tornado editor Kelvin Gosnell, with art by Barrie Mitchell

Judge Dredd Megazine 387 - The Lawless Touch

 

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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