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Waiting For Tommy XXXIII
By Richard Johnston
 
There currently seem to be more threads on message boards discussing the recent Waiting For Tommy featuring Brian Michael Bendis than about the war. There's even a few devoted to the fact I mentioned Monsterman instead of Monkeyman. Oops.

Am I the Monster Man? Some think so, judging by the way I treated Bendis last week. But hey, I had my jollies.

Talking of jollies, here's Andy Diggle. Part of the new wave of British writers for American comics, along with the likes of Antony Johnston, Nick Locking and Mark Peyton. He currently has Lady Constantine and Judge Dredd vs Aliens on the stands, with Snow/Tiger due to debut in 2000 AD next week. A man who likes a drink, can geek with the rest of us and is even under the impression he can carry off a beard, does he have an inferiority complex? Can I give him one? Let's find out.

RICHARD JOHNSTON: Andy, you're a chancer aren't you? Managed to use your assistant editorial job to wangle you a writers gig on 2000AD with an excellent artist you saved for yourself. I don't care if you were unpaid then, it's paid off in spades now, hasn't it? All this Vertigo and Aliens work. When do you think you'll be found out?

ANDY DIGGLE: What you need to understand is that pretty much every editor of 2000 AD has written for the comic. It's always been standard practice - it's how editors learn to edit. Otherwise you end up with a "those who can't do, teach" situation.

When 2000 AD launched in 1977, then-editor Pat Mills wrote every story in the first issue, and then either wrote or re-wrote the rest of the scripts thereafter. In the early 90s, one 2000 AD editor was writing under a pseudonym, and invoicing via an art agency so the publisher wouldn't find out - and was then heard to boast about how he earned more writing for the comic than he did editing it. And so on.

I came in as 2000 AD editor David Bishop's assistant. By this point, David had decided that editorial staff shouldn't be allowed to write for their own titles - because he'd already written a couple of series for the Judge Dredd Megazine, and they hadn't been popular. Fair enough, his decision.

A while after I became editor of the Megazine, I wrote LENNY ZERO - a one-off, unpaid, 10-page story - and put the money I'd saved towards paying a big-name artist to do the cover for the 10th anniversary issue.

RICHARD: Yes... how did that go?

ANDY: The artist in question was Frank Miller. By the time his artwork arrived, David Bishop was again editing the Megazine. David wasn't very happy with the image, so Miller declined payment and asked that the cover not be used. It really wasn't that big a deal.

RICHARD: Mmmm. Maybe it seemed more of one at the time. So you didn't embezzle the cash?

ANDY: Sadly, no. But anyway, it's not like I could have asked a professional freelancer to write 10 pages for free.

As for "an excellent artist I saved for myself", I could have asked a well-known 2000 AD artist like Carlos Ezquerra, Cam Kennedy or Colin Wilson to draw the strip. But instead I chose Jock - a relatively unknown newcomer whom I'd picked out of the slush pile only a few months before. I'd been trying to convince David Bishop to employ Jock for some time, but David had declined to give him a chance. So I had offered Jock a Dredd story as soon as I became editor of the Megazine, and it worked out well. So well, in fact, that David poached him for 2000 AD immediately afterwards.

Jock and I enjoyed working together; Lenny Zero was popular; and Will Dennis at Vertigo liked it enough to offer me the chance to pitch for Lady Constantine. End of story. I'm not sure what you think there is to be "found out" that I haven't previously been perfectly up-front about in interviews, convention panels and online. It's all pretty banal.

Unless you mean that thing with the otter, the nun and the bucket of vaseline. But my lawyers have advised me not to talk about that. Besides, the otter promised me it was over 18, I swear.

RICHARD: Well, I'm still working in advertising until someone realises that I clearly have no talent and I've been coasting on clearly false references from previous employers. Could happen any day now. So have you got the self-confidence thing sorted?

ANDY: Do you mean am I self-confident about my writing? Not really. I tend to be hyper-critical with my own work, I'm never happy with it. But I'm just starting out, hopefully I'll gain confidence as I learn the craft.

RICHARD: I don't suppose we should read anything into your choice of the revamped-for-Vertigo team 'The Losers', then?

ANDY: Like what? They asked me if I'd be interested in re-vamping The Losers, I said sure.

RICHARD: You didn't get a complex over Vertigo coming to you with that particular title or anything? I mean, come on, DC trying to tell you something about your social skills here?

ANDY: No, I didn't get a complex.

*RICHARD POKES ANDY WITH A STICK IN THE SHOULDER*

ANDY: Uh? Whassat... ?

RICHARD: Never mind, just trying to get a reaction.

ANDY: Ask me some proper questions then!

RICHARD: Okay then, let's go for the wallet. If you work it out, added up all the hours you spend writing, thinking or researching for comics, you'd probably be better off stacking shelves in the local supermarket, wouldn't you? Might even get the possibility of promotion to senior shelf stacker. What do you think, fancy filling in a form?

ANDY: You think you're joking. Over the past 12 months I've earned £8,500 - before tax.

RICHARD: I'm not joking. Andy, you live in London. Who's paying to keep you in otters?

ANDY: My wife. Fortunately she's very understanding, and has a Proper Job.

RICHARD: Would she be as understanding about... this! Staggering blind drunk through a corn field, you come across David Bishop and Dez Skinn, in a muddy field, naked except for skimpy briefs. Who would win, in such a one-on-one bare knuckle fist-fight?

ANDY: That sounds to me like the very definition of a no-win situation. Especially for the spectators.

RICHARD: But would you try to break them up?

ANDY: Why would I? Besides, it would be somewhat tricky, as I'd doubtless already have torn out my eyeballs .

RICHARD: Fine superhero you'd be.

ANDY: My spare tyre looks lousy in spandex. I guess I could always be Comfy Sofa Man.

RICHARD: Ooh, can I play? I could be your arch-nemesis, Cat Hair Man. And after you joined The League Of Extraordinary Furniture, I'd band together with my fellow villains Dog Skid Mark Lad, The Red Whine and Kofi Staine.

Fancy pitching it to Epic?

ANDY: Funnily enough, Epic invited me to pitch before they announced it publicly. But I decided to wait for the dust to settle first, see how things shake out. I'd love to write for Marvel - I have half a dozen pitches rattling around in my head. It's just a question of finding the time to put them down on paper.

Oops, sorry. Started talking about actual comics stuff there for a moment...

RICHARD: Don't worry, I don't think anyone noticed.

And there we leave Andy, desperately scribbling down mad thoughts about Cloak And Dagger as a metaphor for gun control. Andy Diggle can be found at: http://www.andydiggle.com. Rich Johnston can be found at: http://litg.comicbookresources.com. One day, the two will declare war against each other.

The Waiting For Tommy Archive

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