Rebellion has a very special collection of John Wagner and Arthur Ranson’s creator-owned crime thriller Button Man out in the US and Canada next week.
Button Man, first published in 2000AD, is deservedly regarded as one of the greatest strips ever to be published in 2000AD. It’s being published as Button Man: Get Harry Ex in a 304-page edition on 17th September and looks, to be frank, utterly beautiful.
An ex-soldier and mercenary, Harry Exton was a human-killing machine without a vocation, until an old colleague told him about ‘The Game’. The players, known as ‘Button Men’, are paid to fight to the death in a modern-day gladiatorial contest. Organised by mysterious backers known as ‘Voices’, the killing game offers bountiful financial rewards… if you live. Harry decides to participate, but soon discovers that death offers the only way out!
Best known for creating Judge Dredd and A History of Violence, Wagner wrote a gritty, violent, and uncompromising story. Along with Ranson’s incredibly atmospheric artwork they produced a stone cold classic thriller.
Optioned by Dreamworks for a big screen adaptation directed by Nicolas Winding Refn, this is the first time the three volumes have been collected together.
The Button Man: Get Harry Ex collection is fantastic and the story one of 2000AD‘s very best stories in its long and deservedly well regarded years of publication and this collection deserves to be on your bookshelves.
“Button Man episode one first appeared in 1992 which now even sounds like a long time ago. Last century.” notes Arthur Ranson in an introduction to the collection. “John Wagner described Button Man as ‘a story of today.’ Well even after that passage of time that still seems to be the case. The central premise of a killing game seemed an original idea back then. I take it for granted that all similar products, books or films, pinched the idea.
“…For any strip I drew my role was to tell the story as best I could, interpreting the writers intentions. But it is true that I was working with ideas of my own about how graphic narrative might work. This was particularly true of that first Button Man. John was patient and accommodating with me, my suggestions and additional panels. On my part there was a idiosyncratic idea about influencing the timing of how a reader took in the narrative. John’s
writing with its solid plotting and sparse dialogue helped in that.
“The surprising (to me anyway) success of the first story led to two more. Any ground-breaking I thought I might have done now became a way of working. In my experience looking back at past work leads to one of two responses – either ‘could have done that better’ or ‘that’s better than I thought.’ Shamelessly, in this case, on the whole I go with the second.”
• Button Man: Get Harry Ex is on sale from 17th September and while not officially on sale in the UK, is being listed by amazon.co.uk. However, should that be removed, here’s a link to Button Man: Get Harry Ex on amazon.com
The founder of downthetubes, which he established in 1998. John works as a comics and magazine editor, writer, and on promotional work for the Lakes International Comic Art Festival. He is currently editor of Star Trek Explorer, published by Titan – his third tour of duty on the title originally titled Star Trek Magazine.
Working in British comics publishing since the 1980s, his credits include editor of titles such as Doctor Who Magazine, Babylon 5 Magazine, and more. He also edited the comics anthology STRIP Magazine and edited several audio comics for ROK Comics. He has also edited several comic collections, including volumes of “Charley’s War” and “Dan Dare”.
He’s the writer of “Pilgrim: Secrets and Lies” for B7 Comics; “Crucible”, a creator-owned project with 2000AD artist Smuzz; and “Death Duty” and “Skow Dogs” with Dave Hailwood.