Garth Ennis to pen new Johnny Red story for Titan Comics, Rivers of London artist revealed

Titan Comics: Rivers of London Promotional Art

Titan Comics has announced its 2015 slate at the New York Comic Con Diamond Retailer Presentation, including the eagerly-anticipated, official, canon continuation of the Rivers of London saga written by Ben Aaronovitch and Andrew Cartmel, joined by Doctor Who and Legends of the Dark Knight artist Matthew Dow Smith; and a new Johnny Red adventure, a character first featured in the weekly war comic Battle, written by Garth Ennis.

Rivers of London is the title of the first in a series of hugely successful series of novels written by Ben Aaronovitch, perhaps best known for his work on Doctor Who, but who also wrote for Casualty and what he cheerfully describes as “the world’s cheapest ever SF soap opera, Jupiter Moon“. The brilliant novels centre around the adventures of Peter Grant, a young officer in the Metropolitan Police; who, following an unexpected encounter with a ghost, is recruited into the small branch of the Met that deals with magic and the supernatural – the first English apprentice wizard in fifty years.

The series has a massive following, in part prompting the release of the official music video above, with lyrics and music by Ben “Doc Brown” Smith and Mikis Michaelides. A TV series is aloso in the works, from Feel Films, the  same production company behind the highly-anticipated, forthcoming BBC adaptation of Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell.

“I’m looking forward to this with the mixture of mad anticipation and stark fear that is the only rational response to developing your own work for television,” said Aaronovitch. “[We] will be looking to put something on TV that will blow the audiences’ socks off out through their ears.”

I’m really looking forward to this comic version of Rivers of London, especially having worked closely with writer Andrew Cartmel in the past on his strips for Doctor Who Magazine, and Matthew Dow Smith looks the perfect choice of artist to capture the haunting off-kilter world of a supernatural London haunted by deranged ghosts, demons and warring gods.

Johnny Red, British air ace
Johnny Red, British air ace. © Egmont UK

Titan Comics have also announced an oft-mentioned but long-time-in-the-works Johnny Red adventure, written by Garth Ennis with art from Keith Burns, telling a new tale of the World War Two air ace seconded by accident to the Russian front. Garth is well known as a fan of this cracking strip, drawn initially by Joe Colquhoun, followed by John Cooper, and, later, Carlos Pino (and some others). Let’s hope John can be persuaded out of retirement to at least draw a variant cover – Carlos, who still draws issues of Commando, too. Titan have previously published collections of Johnny Red, which is owned by Egmont.

A Spitfire study by the hugely talented Keith Burns
A Spitfire study by the hugely talented Keith Burns

It’s great to see Egmont making a move like this and giving today’s comic readers the chance to see fondly-remembered British comic characters in new stories, so I hope this is a success and prompts more forays into their archive. DC Thomson have done the same thing, licensing characters such as King Cobra of the still-in-limbo STRIP Maagazine, but Egmont’s roster – encompassing a huge number of characters first published after 1970, including Adam Eterno (a personal favourite of mine) and Black Max (a personal favourite of Chris Weston).

Again, Keith Burns, whose credits include Hoax Hunters for Image and ReincarNATE, a Kickstarter-funded crime noir graphic novel, looks like a perfect choice for this project – his aircraft art samples on his blog are simply stunning.

Also announced was the news that Montynero will be joined by artist Martin Simmonds on the follow-up to the hugely-successful Death Sentence; and that Titan has secured English language rights to republish Norman, a black comedy about a murderous little boy by French comic creator Stan Silas.

The London-based publisher also has rights to World War X by Jerry Frissen and Peter Snejbjerg, a science fiction graphic novel , while Rachel Deering and Chris Mooneyham are reimagining classic horror in Anathema.

Charger by  Andrew Gaska and MikiAndrew Gaska and Miki‘s action comedy Charger sees a young man embarking on an epic journey to reunite his girlfriend with her phone charge, and Van Lente and Dennis Calero are tackling a SF mobster tale, Man Made.

Titan also announced they would be publishing the Michael Moorcock Library, a series of deluxe editions that will collect the comic adaptations of the legendary British novelist’s fantasy and sci-fi book published down the years.

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Source: Digital Spy

PLEASE NOTE: Since this story was first published, Doctor Who artist Lee Sullivan has replaced Matthew Dow Smith on the Rivers of London book

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.

13 thoughts on “Garth Ennis to pen new Johnny Red story for Titan Comics, Rivers of London artist revealed

  • October 11, 2014 at 8:19 am

    Chris Mitchell dropped me a line with more information on Johnny Red, which of course was largely written by the late, great Tom Tully.

    “Alongside strips by regular artists Cooper and Pino (none from Colquhoun, sadly), there was also one particularly poor effort from ‘HookJaw’ draughtsman Felipe Carrion,” he notes, “a couple of not-quite-on-the-money attempts by Jim Watson; and a rather decent stab by football story specialist Peter Foster; and the familiar standard from Ron Turner.

    “In addition to the clearly identified artists above, there were creditable turns by both Jim Bleach (1985 special) and Keith Page (I think – 1988 special).

    Really can’t place the artist on the 1987 special… The pilot’s face on the second page makes me think of a ‘Look-In’ regular, though. The 1982 annual strip looks very familiar, perhaps someone who did some stints on Future Shocks before refining their style? There’s also the second artist’s work on the 1981 annual text story – looks familiar enough, but seems like it might not even be Johnny Red.”

    Check out the Falcon Squadron site for more info:

  • February 23, 2015 at 8:26 pm

    Great news about Johnny Red coming back.

    Anyone know if Titan Books are still bringing out volume 4 – The Flying Gun?

    Looks as if that (and all other Battle reprints) are cancelled.

  • February 24, 2015 at 6:38 pm

    That’s very good of you, John! Many thanks!

    • July 12, 2015 at 9:31 pm

      Any update on Johhny red vol 4 and the Garth Ennis version from Titan?
      Things seem to have gone completely silent on both fronts.

        • July 13, 2015 at 4:19 pm

          Thanks in advance,

          • July 13, 2015 at 5:17 pm

            The new Johnny Red book is on its way, work in progress – but no official release date yet. I’m waiting to hear on the fourth collection.

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    • July 26, 2015 at 7:52 am

      Thanks Karl. Checking with Titan on this. I spoke with the creative team on the new JR book but can’t say anything official on that just yet.

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