Friday, March 31, 2017

No. 101 Arthur Wyatt

First Prog: 1376  
Latest Prog: 2010

First Meg: 286
Latest Meg: 377

Total appearances: 88

Creator credits:
Road Warrior
Samizdat Squad

Tension in the ranks of the Samizdat Squad
Art by Paul Marshall
Other writing credits:
The 86ers
Judge Dredd
Dan Francisco
A hefty selection of one-offs and 3rillers

Notable characteristics:
Dude seems to like Soviet stuff, what with his first strip being about Laika, his series Samizdat Squad, and his resurrection of Orlok the Assassin as a character with more stories to tell.

But in general he comes across as someone who is deeply interested in the 2000AD-ness of 2000AD. He doesn’t go gonzo crazy in the vein of Al Ewing, but he does have a knack for picking out some pretty weird sci-fi ideas 

I'm still said we never saw any more of the tale of self-creating highways
Art by Inaki Miranda
and putting them on the page to see what happens. And then mixing that up with the stoic word-light action beats of a John Wagner.

Who goes there?
Art by Paul Davidson
Oh, and hardly worth picking out for any given 2000AD writer, but he’s got that dry British humour thing going*.


On Arthur:
Another winner for Tharg, gleaned from the talent pool of fans-turned-pros. Wyatt co-founded FutureQuake, one of the best 2000AD-inspired comics (and he may have worked on fanzine Class of '79 before that?). He got his Prog break after winner one of the pitchfest competitions, leading to a Past Imperfect story. From there, more one offs showing a variety of genres, slowly but surely becoming one of those names you start to recognise in the credits boxes.

And from there, gamely picking up a series that creator Gordon Rennie had left dangling, the 86ers. Not sure if Wyatt approached Rennie, or if Tharg asked Rennie if he could hand the baton on to someone else, but whatever the route it all seems to have been amicable.

Tying up the plot threads
Art by PJ Holden
Little by little, Wyatt has taken his opportunities and grown with each one. Most recently, he seems to have become the lead writer on the continuing comics adventures of Dredd, from the movie. And it’s his most accomplished work to date, I’d say. But I am waiting for him to unleash a more personal creation that really lets him make his mark. Looking back over his career, all the ingredients are there…

I’m inclined to do less waffling this time and more showing a selection of panels from across the years of Wyatt’s tenure.

Working with sci-fi concepts (and dead bodies)
Art by David Roach

Art by Edmund Bagwell

Art by Duane Redhead

There's some classic comics storytelling in these kinds of one-offs. Wyatt sets up some kind of threat, then conjures up an in-story mechanic to defeat it, unafraid of both science and fiction.As often as not, in the 2000 vein, he's also only willing to put up with a certain amount of po-faced pontification from his characters...

Art by Vince Locke

There's even space for a little poignancy, as long as it's delivered with a bullet...

Art by Robin Smith

When working on multi-part stories, Wyatt likes to break up the intricate ideas with extended action sequences, and why not?

Art by Ben Willsher

Art by Paul Marshall
Wyatt's work with Dan Francisco was a lot of fun, developing Wagner's original concept of a Judge who doubles as a relaity-TV star, but now with the added layer of a) having been a somehwat disgraced Chief Judge and b) not being on TV any more. I'd liek to see more of the character, although with that character beat addressed, I can see how it'd be tough to tell Dan Francisco stories that weren't just Dredd stories with a different lead character. See also: Judge Hershey and her slew of well-menaing but never quite successful solo stories.

Wyatt's first original series proper, Samizdat Squad, is yet more 2000AD super-essence, with the slight filter of being Soviet-inflected, for whatever that's worth. Like the Inspectre before it, the strip is rooted in the aftermath of the Apocalypse War. Unlike the moodiness of the Inspectre, it plumps for hard action, with sardonic banter. Basically it's like a good late 80s Dolph Lundgren film series, that never actually exsited.

Setting up the Squad
Art by Paul Marshall

Knocking down the Squad
Art by PJ Holden

Staying Sov, Wyatt served up a handful of outings for Orlok the Assassin. It's kind of James Bond / MACH One-ish in its tone, and frankly the need for 'the adventures of young Orlok' is unclear. But, and this is the point, Wyatt used it as an opportunity to riff on some increasingly weird SF ideas, and if it took a spy-angle to do that then more power to him.

If your hero is called 'Orlok the Assassin', you kinda expect him to do plenty of assassinating.
Art by Jake Lynch

In the second series, Orlok takes on a mutant painter who can paint the future, cubistly.
More of that sort of thing, please!
Art by Jake Lynch

A trip into Orlok's own mind, channeling the spriit of Peter Milligan, perhaps.
Art by Jake Lynch
Lately, to my mind, Wyatt has taken a big leap in quality. His two most recent Dredds have been just excellent, following an unsual team of science research cannibals and Jimping ape. There's horror, action and emotion aplenty in both tales, and I hope it heralds more strips and more confident innovations to come.

What does THE MACHINE do? It must be pretty horrible, right?
Art by Jake Lynch

More on Arthur Wyatt:
His website  
An interview on Starburst
He's a guest on an episode of the War Rocket Ajax podcast

Yes, it is horrible.
Art by Jake Lynch

Personal favourites:
Judge Dredd: Inversion; The Call of K. Cattrall; The Cube Root of Evil; Monkey Business
Dredd: Dust
Samizdat Squad: Black Flowers
The Streets of Dan Francisco
Orlok: The Rasputin Caper

Terror Tales: Bad Blood; Pea Patch Podlings
Future Shocks: Yggdrassil; Scablands

*You’ve got to look pretty hard to find a 2000AD script that lacks this key ingredient.

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