In the mid-1970s, a sub-editor at British comics publisher IPC read an Evening Standard newspaper article about a forthcoming movie called Star Wars. Spotting a potential gap in the market and encouraged by fellow IPC employee Pat Mills, he penned a memo to management suggesting that science-fiction would be the Next Big Thing…
This week, the 2000AD podcast chats to the author of that memo, Kelvin Gosnell, about his role in creating 2000AD, how he went from the competitions department at IPC to creating comics, and some of his stories from the dawn of the Galaxy’s Greatest Comic.
I don’t think Kelvin, whose writing credits include “Dredger” for Action, has been interviewed very often, so this is certainly a chat well worth listening to. Not only does he casually mention he has that original memo suggesting 2000AD, but tells some incredible stories of life at IPC (such as how a “Sexton Blake” strip for Tornado became “Victor Drago” at the very last minute, and arguments with John Sanders over creator rights). It’s a gem!
While it’s often Steve MacManus in photographs from the early days of 2000AD under the modified Neanderthal mask bought from a joke shop used to bring Tharg to life, it was Kelvin who invented the alien editor and also dressed up as him. He also co-wrote “Dan Dare” for 2000AD, “Project Overkill” and “Judge Dredd”, and wrote episodes of “Flesh”, “Joe Black” and some “Tharg’s Future Shocks”.
Taking over from founding editor and 2000AD creator as editor with Prog 16, Kelvin also oversaw the launch of short-lived companion title Starlord, and that comic’s merger with 2000AD, which, among other things, brought “Strontium Dog” to the Galaxy’s Greats Comic.
Kelvin resigned as an editor in early 1979 during the launch of Tornado because of issues between himself and managing editor Bob Bartholomew, and was replaced by sub-editor Steve MacManus, but continued to write for 2000AD on a freelance basis, as well as writing Storm for the Dutch publication Eppo.
“Kelvin was keen to bring the influence of science fiction novels into the comic,” notes Pat Mills of the creator’s contribution to 2000AD. “He was widely-read and a big fan of Harry Harrison. As a result, Kelvin commissioned the excellent The Stainless Steel Rat adaptions drawn by Carlos Ezquerra. He had also read Damnation Alley and suggested I write the The Cursed Earth, which has a similar premise.”
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.
• Listen to the 2000AD Thrill-Cast: Kelvin Gosnell Part One right here (or listen to it on the Thrill-Cast web site here)
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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.