Welcome back to the final part of this interview with four of the creative minds behind the brand new 2000AD fanzine from Northern Ireland, Sector 13. I posted a full write-up about this first (of hopefully many more to come) issue on Wednesday so go and catch up with the contents of this glossy greatness if you haven't already, then check out this three-part interview from the beginning where we've already discussed the initial creation of the comic and its main event, the Justice Perverted photo strip.
|From left to right: Pit Crew Cosplayer (and cover star) Simon McKnight, Script Droid Andy Luke, Art Droid Jawine Westland, Editorial Droid Peter Duncan and Script Droid Laurence McKenna|
If you want the full sensory experience to go with this interview I suggest you kick back with the smell of a freshly cooked calzone, the aroma of a freshly brewed coffee, the taste of a freshly pulled Guinness and the beat of some classic 80s music in the background.
Meeting every Wednesday to work on the comic's next edition, the team also gather on the last Friday of each month for a come-one-and-all pint or two and they couldn't be more enthusiastic that you join in. So for this final part, as my asterisk button continues to take a beating we move on to the subject of the small press scene in Northern Ireland has a whole, the surprising lack of 2000AD groups across the UK and how, through those monthly meets, they're positioning Sector 13 in such a way that it's hopefully going to serve a bigger purpose than simply being a zarjaz comic.
Peter Duncan (Editorial Input): I don't know why, an awful lot of the people involved are of a certain age and we're an age that whenever 2000AD first started coming out Mega-City One looked a hell of a lot like Belfast. It's in the editorial, it was a place where you had block wars over things that nobody understood.
Simon McKnight (Pit Crew Cosplayer): Police walking around in heavy armour, which was part of everyday life.
Peter: And in a way what we've learned, from what we appear to have learned is that there doesn't seem to be any 2000AD group like the Belfast one. I wonder is that because there's something special about that relationship for people like Laurence. I wasn't a huge 2000AD fan. I read it now but I don't read it 'now', I'm reading it from about five years back because I'm doing a catch-up. But there was something special for a lot of people.
Me: I was somewhat sheltered from the Troubles, living out of the city in a small town in the country by the sea. But all of my friends in school who lived in the city all read 2000AD religiously, particularly loving Judge Dredd.
Andy Luke (Script Droid) goes to speak at this point but...
Laurence McKenna (Script Droid): Just while Andy goes to speak, his Sector 13 colleagues are standing to attention for El Presidente (everyone laughs).
Andy: At ease gentlemen.
Laurence: Thank you El Presidente.
Andy: I do declare that part of the success of the Sector 13 group, well, we had the Belfast Comics meets which had a much broader appeal but were more geared towards the indie stuff and didn't have the same level of alchemy among the people there. Whereas the Sector 13 stuff is about 2000AD, the comic that survived. It's sort of the one that's gathered in whole generations of British comics. I think there's more than standard anthology in 2000AD, there's Eagle, there's Warlord, there's Victor, so it's a generational fusion.
|Getting some use out of the sketch page|
Laurence: The 2000AD group in Belfast on Facebook, as a monthly meeting group for everyone, whilst it is specifically 2000AD there's a massive acknowledgement that there are other people out there doing really, really good work and we genuinely want to support them and boost that as much as we can. We need to boost any guy or any woman sitting down to write a story or attempting to draw a page, we need to support that. It is a 2000AD-based group and that's great but groups like that need to be there. It's great we coalesced a big group and it's done through 2000AD and I can't understand why London doesn't do that ten times over, why Manchester, Liverpool, Glasgow, Leeds, f*****g Newcastle, Dublin, Cork, wherever else, why they don't, I don't know what it is with Belfast. We're supposed to be the lazy, drunken irish f*****g d**kh**ds, why the f*** isn't this happening all over the United Kingdom and Ireland?
Simon: I think there are other groups like the Dredd screening groups, they don't meet up as often and I don't think they're as open to the fact that... like our group isn't just the 2000AD fans, there's guys who have never read it before and they come here and have just as much fun as the rest of us. But then it's all-inclusive.
Laurence: There's some groups in London who are only for 2000AD and will tell anyone else to f*** off. What? Be all-encompassing!
Andy: I think some of the elements of the 2000AD 'zines seem to come from Scotland, more remote parts up north and I think there's something about the northern sensibility; Wagner, Grant and all, it's a very northern thing. I think the mainland British indie and small press scene is immensely stronger. It's relatively weak in Northern Ireland. It's going on massively in the south and the mainland and this has been the case. We're getting there (there's a general consensus around the table to this). For the last twenty years 2000AD has been the only British comic on the market, otherwise it's been the indies. I've said it before, there's two or three indie comics in print and are published on average each day of the year, but in Northern Ireland we're lucky there's twenty or thirty in a year.
Laurence: There's nothing bringing those things together, you know. I know by the nature of an independent comic it's very hard to bring it in to something, but we need some sort of a base point which these sorts of things can orientate towards by sheer gravity and then we can broadcast out. It needs focus.
Peter: To be fair Aaron the Comic Book Guy (a reference to Comic Book Guys, the independent comic shop in Belfast) has at least started that and is at least making an effort on it. He's keen to do that and Aaron is someone who will always stock and do signings.
Laurence: It's time-determined. You know I'm 47, Andy is Wookie age so is 3, but the older you get the less concerned with time you get but there needs to be an immediacy engendered into this s***. It needs to happen in a day or week's time, it needs that speed that there was in 1979 or '80 or '85, it needs to be happening a lot quicker, ideas need to be created a lot quicker. The vehicles are there to deliver that, the internet is there to deliver that.
Andy: When the creator is less lonely, when there's an input and a community surge of stuff it can be very empowering.
Andy goes on to tell me about the Belly Laughs Comedy Festival in Belfast at which he is helping out, where comics cartoonists will be doing "funny stuff, short stuff, but actual comics, no pin-ups or splash pages, it'll be sequential words and pictures". More information can be found on the festival's website:
Then the last word was left to Laurence.
Laurence: If you're creative, you're a writer or you're in comics come down to our monthly meeting, enjoy yourself, talk to artists, talk to creators, talk to friendly people, talk to cosplayers, that's what it's all about.
|While I only got to chat with four members of|
the team (more are mentioned in the review) it
takes a lot of dedicated people to produce
something this good
Obviously by now you'll be wanting your own copy of issue one if you haven't bought it yet. It costs only £4.00 plus postage of £2.50 and can be ordered via PayPal using this email: Sector13@boxofrainmag.co.uk
Or you can read my glowing review first if you wish by clicking here.
Much, much more coming for the blog, I won't be away for long!