Kendal Calling: An interview with former 2000AD editor and writer Steve MacManus

LICAF 2017 Banner 2000AD editor and writer Steve MacManus

The countdown has begun to this year’s Lakes International Comic Art Festival in October (13th – 15th). The downthetubes “Kendal Calling” interviews continue with a chat with former 2000AD editor and comics writer Steve MacManus.

Steve began his career in 1973 as a sub-editor on the weekly comic Valiant, published by Fleetway Publications. He went on to work on Battle Picture Weekly and Action, before moving to 2000AD, which he edited from 1979 to 1987. Subsequently, he sought to establish a market aimed at older readers, launching the titles Crisis, Revolver and the Judge Dredd Megazine in quick succession.

Herb and Spaceman © Steve MacManus & Ian Baker
Herb and Spaceman © Steve MacManus & Ian Baker

downthetubes: What are you working on, comics-wise, right now, and when will it be published?

Steve MacManus: The only comics related project I have on at the moment is a proposal for a newspaper strip. It’s called Herb and Spaceman with art by the supremely talented Ian Baker. I feel very strongly that the quality of the strips published by cartoon editors in newspapers like the Daily Mirror is poor – either because it is reprint or because it is bought in from abroad. It seems to me these editors can’t be bothered to nurture the great British tradition of daily picture strips.

downthetubes: Which comic project you’ve worked on are you most proud of and where can people see it or buy it?

2000AD Prog 67 - A Mach Zero cover by Brian Bolland
2000AD Prog 67 – A Mach Zero cover by Brian Bolland

Steve: As an editor, I feel honoured to have been involved with 2000AD progs 74 – 500. As a writer, I am very fond of a character called Mach Zero. His story appeared 2000AD Progs 43 to 46. As an author, naturally I am pleased with my memoir of my time in British Comics – it being The Mighty One: My Life Inside the Nerve Centre.

downthetubes: How do you plan your day as a creator? (Do you plan your day?)

Steve: When I am writing, I travel from my home in North London to the London Library in St James. I believe it is known as the Writers’ Library and that would certainly make sense as the place is filled with fellow scribes typing away. I probably spend about fours there each day.

downthetubes: What’s the best thing about being a comics creator?

Steve: To be fair, I would think of myself more as someone who worked in editorial. If I were a creator though I am sure I would answer that the best thing is going to comic conventions and getting the opportunity to meet people who like your work.

downthetubes: And the worst?

Steve: Deadlines!

downthetubes: What most distracts you from getting your work done?

Steve: The London Library has a total silence rule, so there’s nothing there to distract oneself. However, in terms of interruptions, I do find I have to step away from the desk from time to time and pace around!

downthetubes: Do you think it’s easier or harder for young comic creators to get published today?

Steve: The answer has to be harder, surely, in the sense that there are o few outlets now for scripts and art. No matter how good someone is.

 

Brian Bolland's original cover art for 2000AD Issue 77
Brian Bolland’s original cover art for 2000AD Issue 77

downthetubes: Have you ever been to the Lake District before and if so what did you think of it? If you haven’t, what are you expecting?

Steve: I have never been before so I am looking forward to the experience immensely. I imagine it will be a time of great energy and creative endeavour.

downthetubes: Which one comic creator would you most like to meet, and why?

Inside Action - The Running ManSteve: I would have liked to meet Massimo Belardinelli, but alas the occasion never presented itself. Today, I would dearly love to meet Horacio Lalia. He drew “The Running Man” strip in Action that I scripted under Pat Mills’ august direction.

downthetubes: How do Festivals and other comics’ events help creators most, do you think?

Steve: The benefits are plain. Festivals provide a forum to the exchange of ideas with fellow freelance creators. They are a means for the consumer to feed back to their favourite creators. Festivals also promote the whole notion of comics publishing in the first place. In all, festivals celebrate the art.

downthetubes: What one piece of advice do you offer people looking to work in the comics industry?

Steve: Persevere. Never give up. Keep on improving on what you have already created. Learn from fellow aspirants and above all enjoy the process.

downthetubes: What’s your favourite comic right now and where can people get it?

Steve: Naturally, it has to be 2000AD. On sale every week from a thrill merchant near you. I also like Rok of the Reds, published by BHP comics.

downthetubes: Steve, thank you very much for your time and we look forward to seeing you in Kendal.

Book Your Festival Tickets Now!

• Book your tickets for this year’s Lakes International Comic Art Festival here. This year’s events programme includes live draws, masterclasses, interactive talks and a chance to get up close to the best comic creators in the world! 

Web: www.comicartfestival.com | Facebook | Twitter | YouTube |Podcast

"Action" man Steve MacManus
“Action” man Steve MacManus in the 1970s

STEVE MACMANUS ONLINE

Further Reading

Read more about Action: The Sevenpenny Nightmare

Read our review of The Mighty One: My Life Inside the Nerve Centre

• Steve MacManus, Henry Flint, JOCK and Dom Reardon will be signing at Gnash Comics, 9a West Street, Ashburton, Devon TQ13 7DT 6.00 – 8.00pm Thursday 14th September 2017 Web: gnashcomics.co.uk

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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