2000AD at 2000: An Interview With Eoin Coveney

As part of the lead up to issue 2000 of 2000AD, I thought I’d ask a couple of Irish creators who will be talking part in the 2000th issue celebration at Big Bang Comics about their connection to the book. Next up is an artist who has worked on the book, most recently on the series The Alienist, Eoin Coveney.

What are your first memories of 2000AD?

I recall hearing about it in school after issue 1. I was 8 or 9 at the time but remember clearly the buzz it created in the classroom. When I heard it featured a dinosaur/ sci- fi story, I resolved to buy issue 2. I wasn’t disappointed! It was a revelation to my hungry young (and maybe slightly twisted) mind. The funny thing is, I wasn’t that interested in comics until 2000AD came along, I was aware of Warlord and Battle but war stories didn’t interest me much. I loved drawing dinosaurs since I could hold a pencil but it took 2000AD and specifically, Flesh, to really awaken a deep love for comics and graphic art that has guided my career.

Why do you think the book has lasted so long?

Apart from the extremely high standard of the writing and artwork, I would say the very dark sense of humour that has always run through the comic. I think there was a tougher edge to 2000AD at the time and Pat Mills has to be given huge credit for creating such a strong identity which has endured to this day. Having listened to many interviews with Mr Mills, which I would recommend highly- it’s obvious that both he and John Wagner could see the impending demise of British comics and set out a new and bold path with 2000AD. That the comic is about to celebrate its 40th birthday is pretty strong vindication of their vision.

I asked you about your favourite Dredd stories before. I was wondering what else in 2000AD stands out for you.

After Dredd, I would say Rogue Trooper really pulled me in- due in large part to the incredible art by Cam Kennedy. I loved the bleakness of the character and his stoicism in the face of such an apocalyptic setting. But all of that amazing, gritty artwork by Cam- that just blew me away (and still does). I’ve always had a very soft spot for the `Future Shocks”, too. They seem to encapsulate that very dark and sometimes nihilistic humour that pervades the comic. The Ro- Busters story ‘The Terra Meks” is also one of my absolute favourite stories. Dave Gibbons’s finest hour in 2000AD, in my humble opinion and that’s saying something. I don’t recall ever seeing a story about giant robots fighting to the death ever done more perfectly than that story- just amazing stuff.

I was wondering as an artist which artists you think of when you think 2000AD.

Brian Bolland, Cam Kennedy, Steve Dillon, Dave Gibbons, Jesus Redondo, Ian Gibson, José Ortiz, Garry Leach… I could go on and on but suffice it to say, that truly Golden generation are the biggest artistic influence of my life. The standard they set was so dizzyingly high, it’s not difficult to see why virtually all of them were poached by Marvel/ DC. Once that generation made the move to the U.S., I sort of lapsed as a reader but was pulled back in by the likes of Glenn Fabry and Simon Bisley. As far as contemporary artists are concerned, I feel a strong affinity with artists like Jock, Tiernen Trevallion and Simon Coleby but there are many more.
You’ve done both The Alienist series as well as dipping your toe into the world of Judge Dredd. Do you have a particular favourite thing you’ve done for 2000AD?

I would say that the series I have drawn for 2000AD- The Alienist- has to be the standout for me. I loved having a chance to draw Dredd and Mega City One, of course, but with The Alienist, I was able to shape the look of the characters and their universe from scratch. Obviously, I had some direction from Gordon and Emma on some points- namely the look of Sebastian Weatherall but apart from him, I had virtually carte blanche to do what I wanted. I did really enjoy the Future Shock “Family Business”, too as it was so bleak and violent! I don’t seem to get many funny scripts offered but I loved drawing Tony Tubbs for the one- off story in the Judge Dredd Megazine issue 349. That it was a character originally drawn by my idol, Cam Kennedy, was an even bigger bonus.

What would your dream 2000AD project be?

Well, I think I already have had a dream come true simply by having worked for 2000AD! Having a hand in creating new characters with such fantastic writers as Gordon Rennie and Emma Beeby has been extraordinary. I would, of course, love another crack at Dredd- maybe a horror- themed story. I love Mean Machine Angel, too- I leave it to the wisdom of Tharg the Mighty to decide what is in store for me. As long as I can continue to contribute to this venerable institution, I will be very happy.

As the comic hits 2000, what would you like to see from the book in the future?

I would like to see more of the same, really: more incredible characters and stories. 2000AD has always moved with the times, so that will continue, I expect. The pitch- black humour at the heart of 2000AD is something I hope is never lost. Dredd is such an interesting character in so many ways, not least of which is the fact that he ages in real- time. It’s going to be interesting to see where that goes.

As part of the 2000th issue celebration, Eoin Coveney will be doing a signing at Big Bang Comics in Dundrum this coming Saturday at 1pm.