There’s a great episode of the 2000 AD Thrill-Cast available to listen to now – a wide-ranging chat with writer Simon Furman, talking about his work on The Vigilant and reviving a terrific roster of classic British comic characters.
Simon is the writer of the new shared-universe special, The Vigilant: Legacy, out this week (reviewed here), and talks extensively about classic British comics, juggling team books, and rebooting old characters.
Simon talks candidly with Michael Molcher about creating a shared universe featuring a wealth of classic British comic characters – updating some, and breathing life into new incarnations of old characters, such as Doctor Sin., while some, such as Blake Edmonds (Death Wish) needed very few changes at all.
Simon notes the challenges faced balancing the nostalgic expectations of fans familiar with the original legacy characters and balancing that with introducing them to a new audience.
“It had to be reasonably entry level,” Simon says. “The first issue of The Vigilant [Maelstrom] came with a very nice ‘Who All These Characters Are’, an introduction before you even got into the story, which freed us up a bit just to launch straight in.
“But one of the things we felt, just through space constraints, that we didn’t get to do with the first issue was kind of go behind the mask in the story itself. So we made space in Legacy, to be able to sort of just take our foot off the accelerator and have a look at some of these people in their ‘ordinary lives’ -and give it a bit more context that way, so that both [old and new] readers get a sense that these are real characters, they’re not just the costume.”
Simon sees the Vigilant as rounded, “not always play well together characters”, who have been “lumped together by someone who doesn’t even really feel he knows enough to be in charge of them.
“It’s a team… but [editor] Keith Richardson and I always liked it to [Marvel’s] Defenders, where characters may come and go.” As such The Vigilant as re very loose assemblage, which means we could well see a lot more classic characters joining the roster in future stories.
“We just wanted it to be flexible, so people can drop out, there are clashes, sometimes, new members are drafted in – it was such a wealth of characters to choose from.”
It’s a great chat, also discussing the delicious villains in the piece such as Nazi scientist Von Hoffman and Dr. Mesmer and resisting the opportunity to go over the top; and Simon Coleby’s art on the series, including his work redesigning characters. Simon’s also delighted by Will Sliney‘s pages that see an original Vigilant team battling to stop an earlier attempt to cause a Blood Rapture.
and hints that it would be great to have a more regular frequency than the current annual release. “The frequency is a tough one to maintain that sense of continuity”, he acknowledges, suggesting we’ll see more about the origins of the Blood Rapture threatening the world of the Vigilant in the next story, to bring a powerful conclusion to a the current arc.
Addressing the whole issue of reviving classic characters, Simon is categorical that it’s important the the huge library Rebellion now owns got new life.
“They’re fundamental to the whole British side of comics,” he feels, “they are the heritage of this. I think they’re important not to leave them mouldering in a filing cabinet, just being the preserve of collected editions for the people who grew up with them.
“I think they deserve a new audience, they deserve a fresh coat of paint and make more relevant… it says that as much as American comics have this rich history, so do we…”
The 2000 AD Thrill-Cast is the award-winning podcast that takes you behind-the-scenes at the Galaxy’s Greatest Comic. As well as interviewing top creators and famous fans, we bring you announcements, competitions, and much more.
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