Many comic creators who started out writing or drawing on comic zines have gone on to work in the mainstream industry. It’s a great way to hone your craft, and it’s paid off for Belfast-based comics writer Mark McCann and script editor Peter Duncan, known for their work on the 2000AD-inspired comic zine Sector 13. The duo have just announced they’ve signed a contract with Heavy Metal magazine for a series of stories featuring a new, ongoing character.
The project, still veiled in secrecy, follows on from their work with 2000AD legend and Game of Thrones storyboarder, Will Simpson on “Onslaught Prodigy”, a story published last year in Issue 302 of the long-running European-style comics anthology, and the solicitation of their Never Never series, a new title out of their new Virus imprint, featuring art by Phil Buckenham.
Mark McCann, who wrote one of the most acclaimed “Future Shocks” to appear in 2000AD in recent years, Prog 2149’s, “Spiritual Awakening”, has been the most prolific writer for the Belfast fanzine Sector 13 since the first issue and has had a number of stories in several recent issues of Heavy Metal.
He and Peter, who has edited Sector 13 since its second issue, met through the fanzine and drifted into working together on other projects after Mark shared a pitch, he had drawn up for a major US publisher with the editorial team.
That pitch, which didn’t go anywhere at the time, is currently being reworked for a future submission.
“Peter and I started off working together in Sector 13, and initially everything was very loose,” Mark says of how the pair began their working partnership when it comes to creating comics. “As we went along I began to appreciate his eye for detail.
“Peter has a historic knowledge of the sci-fi/fantasy genre, and was able to identify tropes or cliches, but also make strong suggestions arround character and plot. Over time, it became a natural symbiosis, me writing the scripts and Peter deconstructing them”.
“I prefer an honest appraisal,” he continues, “and Peter, due, I suspect, to his former career in risk assessment, has a very amiable way of tearing a script apart. That’s made it very easy to go with his changes, and take advice from a legacy reader and editor.
“Because, at the end of the day the reason we do this is for the readers, people like ourselves who either grew up loving the medium or, hopefully, are just about to discover”.
“Mark’s concepts and stories are always intriguing, often taking very different views on familiar genres”, says Peter Duncan, who is also the creator of the anthology comic, Splank!, Cthulhu Kids and has contributed on downthetubes. “He writes quickly and with real energy, something that comes through in his action sequences, but his stories also have depth and tackle difficult ideas.
“He likes to have a sounding board,” Peter continues, “someone to act as a first reader, to make sure his themes are being developed fully and clearly and to ensure that the dialogue flows and serves both the story and character development.
“That’s my role. I read his scripts and make changes; I’m allowed to be as brutal as I want, and we somehow manage to work together without egos getting in the way”.
The new series for Heavy Metal is currently being worked on with the first two episodes scripted and character designs in place. In the meantime, Mark continues to have short, standalone stories published in Heavy Metal and the first issue of his, Never Never series has just been solicited by Virus, a relatively new imprint from Heavy Metal.
Mark describes Never Never as an amalgamation of Peter Pan,, The Hunger Games and Lord of the Flies. In other words, a survival horror fantasy, inspired by classics but intended for a new age.
The pair have other plans underway, but those will have to wait for another time. Mark also has a story ready for inclusion in the next issue of Sector 13, due later in the year.
Exciting times for the people behind the fanzine that started out as a 24-page one-shot for the fortieth anniversary of the Galaxy Greatest Comic. Congratulations to them both.
Winter is seduced by the boy-sprite, Petros – off to the Never, Never. A place where children never grow up and adults are the enemy.
What would such a place look like? Where resources are scarce. Time passes, but age is obsolete. War with adults, starved and insane from constant battle, is the norm. What would age-less boys free of civility and role-models be willing to do to survive. To live Forever.
A young girl will face her greatest test; an island full of immortal cannibals with a dark secret that sustains its existence, in the most unnatural and awful of ways.
Writer: Marc McCann
Artist: Phil Buckenham Colour : Agnese Pozza Letters: David Withers Editor: Peter Duncan Volume Number: 1
Genre: Sci-Fi, Fantasy, Horror
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.