Creating Comics: John Reppion talks “Storm Warning”

Last month, downthetubes interviewed writer John Reppion about his new graphic novel, Sir Gawain and the Green Knight. Since then, his latest “Storm Warning” series (previously co-written by Leah Moore), titled “Dead and Gone”, has made its debut in the Judge Dredd Megazine (in Issue 449, still in shops until next week), which is still available to buy in comic shops, newsagents and online. 

Judge Dredd Megazine 449 - Storm Warning by John Reppion and Clint Langley

“Storm Warning” is set in Brit-Cit, the British equivalent of Judge Dredd’s Mega-City One and stars prickly psi-judge Lillian Storm. She has the ability to talk to the dead, and is always accompanied by her ghostly helpers, the spirits of children that have been with her since a demonic ritual.  

Matt Badham sat down with John to get the lowdown on this latest series…

Please tell us about the latest “Storm Warning” story. Give us the high concept or a hook if you can…

Judge Lilian Storm is dead. How did it happen? Why did it happen? And what’s going to happen next?

What appeals to you about fusing horror and science fiction?

I love the classic occult detectives, like Dr. John Silence, and Carnacki: The Ghost-finder, and those stories often blended sci-fi elements with their occult/horror stuff. Carnacki’s Electric Pentacle springs to mind, which is some proper early 20th Century Ghostbusters stuff. And Ghostbusters is, of course, a perfect blend of sci-fi and horror. That and Scooby Doo (the Scooby gang also being occult detectives) very much helped shape my life-long obsession with weird and paranormal stuff. So, I really love the place where horror and sci-fi meet and what better place to explore than in Brit-Cit? It just works perfectly.

The opening page of  - "Storm Warning - Dead and Gone" by John Reppion and Clint Langley, from Judge Dredd Megazine 449
The opening page of – “Storm Warning – Dead and Gone” by John Reppion and Clint Langley, from Judge Dredd Megazine 449

Why is Brit-Cit a good place to explore the genre mashup of horror and sci-fi?

Again, I think that goes back to the psychic detectives thing, and the Victorian English meeting of technology and spiritualism/ “the old ways”. Britain is full of ghosts, but is equally haunted by the spectre of the Industrial Revolution. We have all this Victorian (and older) infrastructure and tradition, and modernity is just kind of fitted into the gaps left around it. I love that. That’s very British.

What does Clint Langley bring to the strip in terms of his art?

So, “Storm Warning” has actually been drawn by three artists: Tom Foster, Jimmy Broxton and now Clint. Clint and I already worked together on a one-off “Storm Warning/Blackhawk” crossover for the 2020 2000AD Sci-Fi Special, so he’s not entirely new to the world or the characters. Obviously, Clint’s art is amazing anyway, but I think he also brings loads of atmosphere to the story – really setting the tone of Dead and Gone as something a bit darker and weirder. 

When I scripted the bizarre imp-dissolution in part one of the series, I didn’t know Clint would be the artist, but when I first saw those panels, I was like, “Yes, that’s it!”.

Blackhawk meets Lilian Storm, in the 2020 2000AD SciFi Special, by John Reppion and Clint Langley
Blackhawk meets Lilian Storm, in the 2020 2000AD SciFi Special, by John Reppion and Clint Langley

What is it like for you working in a shared-universe setting?

When Leah and I were asked to create “Storm Warning” (by Tharg, naturally) we were given pretty much free reign, to be honest. Lillian Storm’s career and John Smith and Colin MacNeil’s “Strange & Darke” series are set at the same time as each other. You’ll even spot Detective Inspector Jericho Strange and Psi-Judge Bekky Darke in a couple of “Storm Warning” stories, if you look hard enough. However, there’s not a huge amount of overlap with “Storm Warning” and other previous Bri-Cit set series. So, we’ve really just been pretty much free to play and explore without the constraints of canon. Which, to be honest, I always prefer, unless I already know all the info and want to show off.

A tease for the second episode of "Storm Warning - Dead and Gone" by John Reppion and Clint Langley, from Judge Dredd Megazine 450, on sale next week
A tease for the second episode of “Storm Warning – Dead and Gone” by John Reppion and Clint Langley, from Judge Dredd Megazine 450, on sale next week

In terms of Dreddworld material and the 2000 AD pantheon, are there any other shared world settings you’d like to work in?

Neither Leah nor myself has ever done a Judge Dredd story or series although we’ve come close a couple of times, so I suppose that’s always the 2000AD holy grail. However, as I said, you’re so constrained by the established lore and continuity that I think it can be a bit of a slog for someone who doesn’t already know absolutely all there is to know about Dredd (which I don’t, to be honest). I suppose taking Dredd out of Mega-City, maybe plunging him into our Brit-Cit, might be a way to go. That might be lots of fun, actually.

What else is going on in the world of John Reppion? What other projects are you working on?

As I type these words I’m preparing for Thought Bubble, in Harrogate, at the end of the week where myself and artist MD Penman will be launching the hardback edition of our graphic novel adaptation of Sir Gawain and the Green Knight. So, my house is even more full of boxes of comics than usual. 

Sir Gawain and the Green Knight by John Reppion and MD Penman SNIP

Work-wise, I’m getting ready to do my final draft for a book for Liminal 11, which myself and artist PJ Holden have been working on. I’m working on some Sword and Sorcery micro-stories for Dungeon Synth tape label HDK. And Leah and myself are just about to start work on a big graphic novel project, which should take us through until about this time next year. 

I think that’s everything… but I’m probably forgetting stuff!

Thank you very much, John, for giving us your time.

John Reppion is a writer of prose fiction and non-fiction, who has worked for a diverse set of clients including The History Press, Fortean TimesDaily Grail Online, the Hellebore Zine. He has also written comics for DC Comics, 2000AD, the Judge Dredd Megazine, and Heavy Metal Magazine. His comics work has often been produced in collaboration with his wife, Leah Moore, who is herself a renowned writer. John has recently been producing mixed media work combining prose and music, which has led to his collaboration with Library of the Occult Records. Twelve original short horror stories written by John are being released by LOTO, each with its own bespoke soundtrack

On top of all this, he somehow finds time to write regular reviews of keyboards, tablets and other writing tools, which can be found here

• For more on John Reppion (and, indeed, Leah Moore), please visit their website

Storm Warning Stories

  • “The Relic” Judge Dredd Megazine 361 to 366 (6 episodes)
    Script: Leah Moore & John Reppion Artist: Tom Foster, Colour: Kirsty Swan, Letters: Simon Bowland
  • “Over My Dead Body” Judge Dredd Megazine 400 – 403
    Script: Moore & Reppion Artist: Jimmy Broxton
  • “Green and Pleasant Land” Judge Dredd Megazine 404 to 408 (6 episodes)
    Script: Moore & Reppion Artist: Tom Foster, Colour: Eva De La Cruz, Letters: Simon Bowland
  • “Storm Warning vs Blackhawk” 2000AD 2020 SciFi Special
    Script: John Reppion Artist: Clint Langley Letters: Jim Campbell
  • “Dead and Gone” Judge Dredd Megazine 449 –
    Script: John Reppion Artist: Clint Langley Letters: Jim Campbell

Keep track of things “Storm Warnning” on John and Leah’s web site

Categories: 2000AD, British Comics, Comics, Creating Comics, downthetubes Comics News, downthetubes News

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